It's a subtle but obvious reminder in the locker room, a silent sentinel but one whose meaning speaks volumes.
"Tradition never graduates."
It's a sign that greets Hempfield athletes on a daily basis, but it's also a way of life for the Black Knights track and field program.
Monday night, fueled by a slew of outstanding individual performances that translated into a rousing team success, the Hempfield girls' track squad claimed its seventh straight Section One title by overpowering Manheim Township 92-58.
The Hempfield boys (4-2 L-L, 5-3 overall) also dominated Township (2-4, 2-4), winning 115-35.
"It's pretty incredible," junior co-captain Kayla Garpstas said of the Knights (6-0, 8-0) extending their L-L League dual-meet unbeaten streak to 46 in a row, dating back to 2005. They've won 56 straight meets overall.
The last time the Hempfield girls lost a Section One battle was in April of 2005, when Township did the honors with a 79 1/2-70 1/2 verdict that propelled the Blue Streaks to that year's title.
"It's not something we talk about, and we didn't even mention it to the girls until this week," Knights coach Curt Rogers said of the lengthy winning streak. "Really, we just wanted the seniors to go out with a bang."
Interestingly enough, it was Township that fired the first shot, with Caitlin Cloonan outracing Kelsey Nolan to the finish line in the 3,200 relay (9:52.8), a bit of an upset as far as Rogers was concerned, but a great effort according to MT coach Mark Linn.
"There was a lot on the line, and we had to try something," Linn said.
The Township girls (5-1, 5-1) were also unbeaten heading into Monday's regular-season finale.
"We would have loved to have won. You're never pleased when you fall short," said Linn. "What I'm most proud of is that we rose to the challenge. We gave them a good fight. We certainly made them earn it."
"That was a head-turner," Rogers said of the early setback. "It's good to have happen early, and just once. It was certainly a wake-up call."
"That freaked me out," Garpstas said of the Knights losing the initial race. She did her part to right the ship, coming from behind in the next race to win the high hurdles in 17.3 seconds.
"She was two hurdles away from the finish line, and I just saw her eyes narrow," Rogers said of watching Garpstas' race. "She just took off like a shot (and won)."
Taking off like a shot was also an apt description of sophomore Sarah Helgeson, who captured the 200 (25.1), 400 (56.6) and anchored the 1,600 relay (4:12.3) to victory. She has the league's top times in the 100, 200 and 400.
Claire Davis (12.4) led a Hempfield sweep in the 100, and by the end of the night, the Knights had outscored the Streaks 25-2 in the sprints.
Senior Chrissy Rickert powered the Hempfield throwing team that also outscored the Streaks 25-2. Rickert won both the discus (107-3) and javelin (127-8) and took second in the shot put (30-9).
"I'm just happy to get the win, and send the seniors off with a happy 'W'. Really, everybody on our team combined to make this happen," said Helgeson. "It wasn't a single effort, but it was just everybody doing it, whatever they needed to do, for the team."
"For some of (the seniors), it was their last meet," said Garpstas. "It was just a great night, and a great atmosphere competing under the lights. A special end."
A winning tradition, one that never graduates.