The Hempfield girls' track team is loaded for bear.
"And we're the Bears," Elizabethtown coach Jeff Harnish said with a laugh.
Harnish was smiling despite his crew's fourth straight loss to the Black Knights, by a 90-60 margin in a Section One showdown Tuesday in Landisville.
"They're the best and they bring out the best in my team," Harnish said of the Hempfield girls (3-0 L-L, 4-0 overall), who have not lost a dual meet since early in the 2006 season.
On the boys' side, freshman Tory Long won the 100 (11.1), 200 (22.8), 400 (55.0) and anchored the winning 400 relay (48.5) and senior Kyle Long won the shot put (56-10 1/2) and discus (184-1) to pace Hempfield (2-0, 2-2) to a 111-37 triumph over E-town (0-3, 0-4).
"It's exciting and it feeds on itself," Hempfield coach Curt Rogers said of the girls' winning streak. "Year after year, it just picks up where it left off."
E-town (2-1, 3-1) has pushed the Knights since Harnish took over four years ago, losing by scores of 79-71, 86-64 and 76-74 the previous three seasons.
"We keep pushing, and our girls really do never give up, so some day, maybe we'll get there," Harnish said of possibly knocking off Hempfield.
That possibility will have to come in the form of a nonleague meet in the foreseeable future, since E-town will drop to Section Two next year, being replaced by Conestoga Valley.
Tuesday, in windswept Landisville, Rogers wasn't sure what to expect from E-town, other than that he was certain the Bears would battle, tooth and nail.
"This early in the season, you're really not sure who is doing what," Rogers said. "You kind of just go with it (and) see what materializes."
Each girls' team won four individual events on the track, but Hempfield took all three relays. An expected showdown between L-L League leaders in the 400 relay never materialized because Sara Fuhrman, a key cog for E-town, was injured Monday and did not compete Tuesday according to Harnish.
Sophomore Sarah Helgeson stormed to victory in both the 400 (58.5) and 200 (25.2), and the Knights got a huge boost when junior co-captain Kayla Garpstas (17.6) fronted an unexpected sweep in the high hurdles. Claire Davis also won the 100 in 12.4.
Junior Olivia Esbenshade had a long but very successful day on the track for the Bears, taking the 800 (2:25.2), 1,600 (5:38.5) and 3,200 (12:36.0), while Kaylyn West (50.3) won the 300 hurdles.
"We knew they were going to be tough," said Garpstas. "They have strengths in every area. They're a great team."
The throws went to Hempfield 14-13, despite wins from E-town's Sarah Fairbanks in both the shot (38-2) and discus (119-7). Conversely, the Bears took the jumps 14-13, despite wins from Hempfield's Davis in both the long (15-1 1/2) and triple (31-7) jumps to go along with her victory in the 100.
However, the big tipping point came in the pole vault, which Hempfield swept. Danielle Poletti (10-6) took first, followed by Garpstas (10-0) and Heather Hollow (8-0).
"We talked about needing to focus on not just winning, but on getting those seconds and thirds," Garpstas said. "Even getting the fourths, fifths and sixths, because the people who don't place are the ones pushing the people that do."
In her case, Garpstas pushed Poletti in the pole vault after also pulling Abbey Friedman (18.0) and Erin Addie (18.1) in the high hurdles.
"We laid it out for them and just said that if you take care of your ownself, you do your personal bests, points tend to roll in," said Rogers.