On the first day of Hanover track and field practice, a group of athletes walked into the gymnasium proclaiming they would be PIAA medalists.
Hanover track and field coach Tara Bahn smiled and assured them it would take hard work and sacrifice.
For the last four years, Hanover athletes came into the season without a bona fide state medalist to look up to. This year, Bahn is happy to point toward high jumper Morgan Herrick, a junior who placed eighth on Pennsylvania's biggest stage at Shippensburg University last season.
"The freshmen are just now starting to learn it's a very big ocean they're swimming in, but Morgan is someone who has excelled in the area," Bahn said. "Now I'm trying to get others to emulate her offseason dedication."
During the summer, several of the team's athletes joined a CrossFit gym together, but Herrick continued those workouts during the school year, even during the field hockey season. Instead of playing basketball with her friends this winter, the junior worked with her private coach, Hanover resident Bill Hill, who she said used to be a coach at Westminster (Md.) High School.
Herrick said the school worked with her, installing old equipment inside Hanover's gym so she could practice the high jump without being outside.
"We've been working on a more advanced approach," Herrick said. "We looked at every aspect of my technique so I can get impressive heights this season."
It remains to be seen how Herrick defines impressive. In the eyes of her peers, her jumps already achieved that status in each of the last two years.
As a freshman, Herrick earned her classmates' respect by taking District 3 Class AA gold. Although she tied for second at districts last season, Herrick set the bar for the Hawkettes once again by clearing a 5-foot, 2-inch jump for eighth at states.
It was the school's first state medal since Cassie Wallen earned third in the pole vault in 2009.
Last year Herrick also worked with 1,600-meter relay teammates Lynne and Renee Eisenberg and Saranda Gerlach to set the school record with a 4:12.40, good enough for seventh at districts.
Lynne Eisenberg graduated, but Herrick hopes the group can find a replacement to make another run at the record. She also has her sights on setting her own record in the high jump. The school's current mark of 5-3 was set by current York College women's basketball coach Betsy Witman in 1983.
With a chance to improve her times in the 100 and 300 hurdles, as well, Herrick said she wants to have the best junior season possible.
"I want to do well so I can go somewhere really nice for college and help the team achieve its goals, as well," she said.
Tatiana Purnell, Dallastown
Julia Kendrick, Red Lion
Amanda Myers, Red Lion
Holly Arey, South Western
Hannah Glover, South Western
Erin Harman, South Western
Lynne Mooradian, South Western
Steph Shaw, South Western
Shea Beierschmitt, Dover
Rachel Banchiere, Susquehannock
Alesha Herman, Susquehannock
Jahna Alleyne, West York
Elle Stine, West York
Olivia Gettle, York Suburban
Rachel Crane, Bermudian Springs
Mary Gingrow, Delone Catholic
Kate Mowrey, Delone Catholic
Grace Reidel, Delone Catholic
Cambria Wierman, Delone Catholic
Morgan Herrick, Hanover
Emma Harrelson, York County Tech