BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – What do you call continued excellence over a significant period of time? Greatness.
But at the Lebanon County Track and Field Championships, it goes by a different name – Reagan Hess.
On Saturday at Lebanon High School, during the annual running of the County meet, Hess continued to explore the boundaries of individual excellence by winning the Outstanding Female Athlete award. For the Annville-Cleona sprinter, it was her third straight OA award, and she added three more individual gold medals to up her career total at the event to 11.
Very few female student-athletes have enjoyed that level of success, in the 40-plus year history of the County T&F Championships. And Hess is just a junior.
Hess captured the local titles in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the long jump, and she was part of an Annville-Cleona squad that finished second to Cedar Crest in the 400-meter relay. In some ways, Hess’ performance stole the spotlight from the Falcons, who claimed the team championship by a narrow margin over Palmyra.
The Falcons piled up some 182.5 team points compared to the Cougars’ 159. Hess’ Little Dutchmen were third with 83 points, followed by Elco with 78.5, Lebanon High and Northern Lebanon.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” said Hess. “Sometimes I forget what I did in the past because I’m so focused on the moment. But I have done a lot.
“I want to go to districts and I want to give 100 percent in every event,” Hess added, “because I missed out last year. And I’ve got to make up for it this year.”
Hess may be physically healed from a devastating hamstring injury at last year’s Lancaster-Lebanon League championships that curtailed her sophomore postseason, but the emotional effects still linger. Yesterday marked the beginning of Hess’ junior postseason.
“My leg is completely fine,” said Hess. “Basically, that’s all I wanted today. It’s been sore since the Shippensburg Invitational. Of course I do my icing, resting and stretching, and I went to a physical therapist. It’s been great.
“Thinking about it is probably 80 percent of each competition for me,” Hess continued. “I’ve babied it, but it’s coming to a point now that I don’t have to any more.”
“She had a phenomenal day,” said Cedar Crest girls’ head coach Rob Bare of Hess. “I’ve been coaching more than 20 years, and I’d be hard-pressed to think of a more talented athlete than Reagan. She’s a phenomenal talent and a great kid. She’s going to bring home medals from the district and state meets. They’re going to be pretty big, and they’re going to be pretty, bright and shiny.”
Hess began her day with a record-breaking effort in the long jump in the morning. For lunch, she out sprinted the field to win the 100-meter dash, in a time of 12.1.
Running the anchor leg in the 400-meter relay, Hess couldn’t run down the fleet Falcons. But then she capped her day by breaking her own record in the 200-meter dash, with a 25.1
“I felt like I could do decent for what I could do,” said Hess, who’s also an accomplished soccer player. “The four-by-one was a tough one. It wasn’t the best long jump. It wasn’t the best 100 either. But it wasn’t bad, so I’m OK with it.
“The 200 was the fastest I’ve ever run,” continued Hess. “But it didn’t really feel like it. After the four-by-one and all the stress, I wanted to put all I could into it (the 200). My leg needs to stay where it’s at. I need to work on my mentality, which is a big part of track and field, and my training. That’s all I can do until districts.”
Remarkably, the Falcons collected their team points with only four individual triumphs. Taylor Menser copped the 100 high hurdles, Brianna Laliberte was the winner of the 300 hurdles, Faith Wenrich captured gold in the high jump and Hannah Woelfling was crowned county champion in the discus.
But Cedar Crest used its depth to rack up team points, and the Falcons were victorious in two relay events. The foursome of Taylor Menser, DeAsia Holloman, Ariel Jones and Destinee Holloman scored a 49.7 in the 400-meter relay, while the quartet of CeCe Fiorentino, Laliberte, Emily Peters and Tyra Craun struck paydirt in the 1600 meters.
“We knew it was going to be close,” said Bare, who’s in his first season of heading the girls’ program. “I’m really proud of what the girls’ team has been able to accomplish, not just today but the whole season. A lot of people stepped up. We picked up key, valuable points. And we had some big-time drops (in times). Everybody did what they needed to do.
“I really think that 300 hurdle race jump started us,” continued Bare. “Before that we didn’t have a lot of life. The same thing with that four-by-one. I talked to those girls a couple of weeks ago and told them we could challenge the school record, and I don’t think they believed me. Now we’re only a couple of tenths of a second away.”
Palmyra’s Ellie Keck turned in a couple of middle distance triumphs. Keck went 2:26.7 to win the 800 meters, and 5:24.2 to win the 1600.
Cougar teammate Jess Dembrowski repeated last year’s 400-meter victory, Kelsei Bixler won the 3200-meter run by eight seconds, Camryn Simpson triumphed in the triple jump and Kristen West laid claim to the javelin title.
Lebanon High’s Ary’Anna Ortolaza captured the shot put competition. Elco’s Emily Bidelspach was crowned Lebanon County’s queen of the pole vault.
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|Lebanon County Track and Field Championship Records|
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