BY JEFF FALK
LEBANON – A star was born at yesterday’s County meet. And in many ways, a program was reborn.
On Saturday at Lebanon High School, during the annual Lebanon County Track and Field Championships, the Cedar Crest girls relived, revisited and returned to past glory, as they captured their first County title in five years. But the big story of the day was the performance of precocious Annville-Cleona freshman Reagan Hess, who literally ran away with the outstanding female athlete trophy.
Performing on her biggest stage thus far, Hess was simply brilliant. The long-striding sprinter garnered four gold medals, and in the process helped shatter a pair of Lebanon County marks for speed.
Hess was the head coaches’ unanimous selection for female OA.
“Reagan!,” said Cedar Crest head coach Ann Boyer, when asked for whom she cast her vote. “I had to. Oh my goodness. Winning four events as a freshmen, and with great times. It was a no-brainer. I knew (Falcon sprinter) Katie Gable wanted to do well for us. But she gave us everything she had.”
But just as compelling as Hess’ individual performance was Cedar Crest’s team effort.
The Falcons stepped out of the long shadow cast by its dominant boys’ program and shone on its own, breaking Palmyra’s four-year hold on the Lebanon County team title. This time it was Cedar Crest which edged the Cougars, 155 team points to 146.
Headed by Hess, the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three champion Little Dutchmen came in third with 141 team points. Elco was fourth, ahead of Lebanon High and Northern Lebanon.
“It did mean a lot that it was close, and because it was a team effort made it special,” said Boyer. “The kids really had to pull together. I’m so excited about this.
“Sometimes for me, it’s (watching the CC boys win every year) a little frustrating,” Boyer continued. “But I thought we had the best team this year. This team is so talented, I’m glad we came out with a win. They’re great girls. They work hard.”
In the first County meet of her promising career, Hess enjoyed a long, rewarding and fulfilling day. It began with a healthy 17-6 effort in the long jump, and continued with a winning 12.3 in the 100-meter dash.
“I felt like I started things strong,” said Hess. “In the 100, I knew I’d have really good competition. After that was the four-by-one, and it was something! Cedar Crest has a really good team, but we pulled it off. In the 200, I just felt like I wanted to get the race done. So it was a pretty good day. I’ve got to praise the Lord.
“I was just focusing on personal records. I was focusing on myself,” Hess continued. “I know training and the ability thing will come in when I feel it in my muscles. The Lord has blessed me with this speed. I prayed today before each race, and he helped me.”
It was Hess’ speed on the home stretch which allowed the Little Dutchmen to run down and erase a substantial Cedar Crest lead in the 400-meter relay, and post a new meet record of 50.2 seconds. Preceding her were A-C legs Tori Malloy, Timeshah Clark and Veronica Merone.
Then Hess capped her afternoon by establishing a short margin on the turn of the 200-meter dash, before opening it up and pulling away from her competition for a 25.5, another new County mark.
“It would mean a lot to me,” said Hess, before the Outstanding Athlete award was announced. “It would mean all my work paid off. It would mean I won ‘my race’.
“I also play soccer, and it’s hard to say which one is my thing,” Hess added. “I truly love soccer. But I truly love track. My mom coached track since I was a baby, so I’ve been around the sport since I was young. And it has helped.”
Amazingly, Cedar Crest scored only three first-place finishes, but was propelled to victory by its superior depth. Two of those Falcon triumphs came from Shauna Sweigart, who copped the shot put and discus disciplines.
Falcon Logan Reedy shared her crown in the high jump with Little Dutchman Sidni Peiffer.
Palmyra captured the other two relay events – the 1600 and 3200 – with three of the legs which ran to state gold in the races last spring. Joining holdovers Katie Dembrowksi, Maria Tukis and Miranda Salvo was newcomer Jess Dembrowski.
J. Dembrowski also prevailed in the 800-meter run, as did sister Katie D. in the 400-meter dash. Salvo proliferated Palmyra’s distance dominance by winning the 1600-meter run, while teammate Kelsi Bixler did her part in the 3200.
Two other Cougar multi-sport athletes – Katie McClellan and Kendall Kreider – struck gold in the javelin throw and the 100-meter hurdles, respectively.
Annville-Cleona got victories out of Alex Siebecker in the 300-meter hurdles and Samantha Becker in the triple jump.
Lebanon High’s lone triumph of the day was a big one, as Erin Winters smashed the Lebanon County record with a winning jaunt of 12-3 in the pole vault.
|Lebanon County Track and Field Championship Records|
|LEBANON COUNTY MEET RECORDS|