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PALMYRA >> More than most, the multi-sport standouts of the Palmyra girls track and field team love a good challenge.

More than most, the Cougars have an uncanny knack for not only meeting those challenges, but rising way above them.

They did it again on Tuesday by turning what shaped up as a tight first-place showdown with backyard rival Hershey into a surprising rout, racing past the Trojans 98-52 in a Mid-Penn Keystone Division battle at Buck Swank Stadium.

Dominant in its specialty, the middle and long distance events, and in the field, Palmyra took over sole possession of the Keystone lead with Tuesday's triumph, improving to a perfect 5-0 in the division and 5-1 overall.

Hershey, which would take a 79-71 win in the boys' meet, fell to 3-1-1 in the Keystone.

"I really think they responded well, they really stepped up," said Palmyra coach Danny Byrd of his competitive squad's latest rise-to-the-occasion performance. "We had a lot of (personal bests). Our girls were really fired up for the meet, and when it came right down to it they performed.

"If you look at all the other sports that they do, it just translates right into track. They are always competitors."

As noted, the Cougars cleaned up in the middle and long distance events, taking the 1600 and 3200 relays and the 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 meters behind prime-time performances from Jess Dembrowski, Katie Dembrowski, Miranda Salvo and Kelsei Bixler. In addition, Maria Tukis provided important runner-up finishes in the 800 and 1600.

But Palmyra was equally dominant in the field, winning six of the seven events behind Camryn Simpson's sweep of the long and triple jumps.

Katy McClellan (javelin), Jannae Bonds (high jump), Amber Stamm (shot put) and Ashley Koser (discus) also stepped into the winner's circle in the field.

"Our throwers have been doing awesome," Byrd said. "They've been pulling the meets out for us and today they did the same thing. They haven't been giving up many points, and today was no exception, which was really awesome to see. They take pride in it, too."

Not that the revered middle and long-distance crew was slacking, tallying 40 of a possible 46 points in the six events.

The Dembrowski sisters took the 400 and 800 in respective times of 1:02.3 and 2:30.5, Salvo was victorious in 5:24.9 in the 1600, and Bixler led a 3200 sweep in 12:11.20.

In addition, the Dembrowskis, Tukis and Salvo captured the 3200 relay with ease, and Ellie Keck joined Tukis and the Dembrowskis for a meet-closing 1600 relay win.

"That's an awesome group," Byrd said. "They work real hard, and they're such great teammates and competitors. They push each other and cheer each other on. They're awesome."

And all together, they have Palmyra on the brink of an outright division title.

Two more significant tests await next week in Cedar Cliff and Lower Dauphin, but as the Cougars proved again on Tuesday, they're not a group that will be shying away from a confrontation anytime soon.

"It's gonna be two tough meets," Byrd said. "Lower Dauphin's good, and we've had a tough time with Cedar Cliff the last couple years. But of they perform like they did today, I think we'll be in good shape."

In the boys' meet, Palmyra gave a good account of itself despite falling to 1-5 overall and 0-5 in the division.

Mitchell Cooper shined brightest for the Cougars, winning the 100 high hurdles, triple jump and long jump.

Girls Track and field

Palmyra 98, Hershey 52 at Palmyra

3,200 relay — 1. Palmyra (K. Dembrowski, J. Dembrowski, Hollen, Salvo) 11:03; 100 hurdles — 1. Christopher (H) 16.7, 2. Hutchinson (P), 3. Nortier (H) ; 100 — 1.Chodos (H) 12.8, 2. Hamilton (H), 3. Epler (H) ; 1,600 — 1. Salvo (P) 5:24.9, 2. Tukis (P), 3. Mortinson (H) ; 400 relay — 1. Palmyra (Blovin, Wolfe, Bucher, Simpson) 53.3 ; 400 — 1. J. Dembrowski (P) 1:02.3, 2. Jones (H), 3. Groves (H) ; 300 hurdles — 1. Nortier (H) 50.7, 2. Christopher (H), 3. Hutchinson (P) ; 800 — 1. K. Dembrowski (P) 2:30.5, 2. Tukis (P), 3. Mortinson (H) ; 200 — 1. Epler (H) 27.1,2. Hamilton (H), 3. Chodos (H) ; 3,200 — 1. Bixler (P) 12:11.2, 2. Hollen (P), 3. Salvo (P) ; 1,600 relay — 1. Palmyra (Tukis, J. Dembrowski, E. Keck, K. Dembrowski) 4:11.7 ; Shot put — 1. Stamm (P) 33-3, 2. Swisher (P), 3. Koser (P) ; Discus — 1. Koser (P) 97-11, 2. Swisher (P), 3. Groves (H) ; Triple jump — 1. Simpson (P) 35-2 3/4, 2. Christopher (H), 3. Winsett (P) ; Long jump — 1. Simpson (P) 16-5 1/4, 2. Christopher (H), 3. Winsett (P) ; High jump — 1. Bonds (P) 4-8, 2. Smoluk (P), 3. Winsett (P) ; Pole vault — 1. Craig (H) 8-6, 2. Martin (P), 3. Shapiro (H) ; Javelin — 1. McClellan (P) 110-6, 2. West (P). 3. Rizzo (H)

Boys Track and field

Hershey 79, Palmyra 71 at Palmyra

3,200 relay — 1. Hershey 8:58.4. ; 100 hurdles — 1. Cooper (P) 16.0, 2. Yaw (P), 3. Rhette (P) ; 100 — 1. Paynter (H) 11.4, 2. Rhette (P), 3. McNew (P) ; 1,600 — 1. Sponaugle (H) 4:43.3, 2. Demko (H), 3. Sullivan (H) ; 400 relay — 1. Palmyra 48.1 ; 400 — 1. Paynter (H) 52.2, 2. Harro (P), 3. Myers (H) ; 300 hurdles — 1. Hoffsmith (P) 45.9, 2. Yaw (P), 3. Yantz (H) ; 800 — 1. Sponaugle (H) 2:05.1, 2. Sullivan (H), 3. Demko (H) ; 200 — 1. Paynter (H), 2. Rhette (P), 3. Harro (P) ; 3,200 — 1. Demko (H) 10:20.6, 2. Corado (H), 3. Perry (P) ; 1,600 relay — 1.Hershey 3:32.8 ; Shot put — 1. Sheehan (H) 43-4, 2. Cooper (P), 3. Sweeney (P) ; Discus — 1. Cooper (P) 143-2, 2. Sheehan (H), 3. Unger (P) ; Triple jump — 1. Cooper (P) 41-9, 2. Thompson (H), 3. Davis (P) ; Long jump — 1. Cooper (P) 20-11, 2. Thompson (H), 3. Davis (P) ; High jump — 1. Thompson (H) 5-8, 2. Sweeney (H), 3. Von Steffen (P) ; Pole vault — 1. Von Steffen (P) 9-6, 2. Donahue (H), 3. Gredlunas (P) ; Javelin — 1. Hoffsmith (P) 161-8, 2. Harro (P), 3. Virbley (H)

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