Talent, depth and leadership are all traits that have separated the Northwestern Lehigh track and field program from its peers over the past few seasons.
Those skills were on full display last Thursday as Northwestern swept Colonial League rival Palmerton, with the boys picking up an 84-66 win and the girls claiming a 104.5-40.5 victory.
The Tigers (5-0) claimed victory in a highly competitive boys' meet by placing at least two in the points-earning places in seven events and by sweeping all three relays.
The words of Northwestern baseball coach Len Smith were a perfect summation of the Tigers' Colonial League clash against rival Northern Lehigh.
"That's why you play the game," he said of his team's 6-5, come-from-behind win on Tuesday.
Trailing 5-2 entering the bottom of the seventh inning, Northwestern manufactured four runs and five hits, capped by Josh Williamson's game-winning RBI single to claim a remarkable 6-5 win.
"I tell the kids to never give up until that final out," said Smith. "We're very fortunate that the kids hung in there and battled back.
The Northwestern wrestling team has been through quite a bit this season.
An outbreak of impetigo early in the year decimated the lineup and forced the team to constantly adjust. All while maintaining some form of routine and order, no small task for a squad that features zero seniors.
But no matter the circumstances, the Tigers kept fighting and never quit.
Success, in any sport, is never a sure thing.
Even the most accomplished and talented athletes go through trying times, testing their resolve and commitment.
But the best remain dedicated to their craft, never wavering in the face of adversity.
It's that kind of unparalleled devotion that separates Northwestern Lehigh senior Haley Yost from her peers.
Yost medaled at the league, district and state meets this season, finishing no worse than fourth and improving her position and time in each race from a year ago.
Sometimes a win or a loss isn't always indicative of a team's performance, let alone a true measure of its talent.
Such is the case with the Northwestern wrestling team, a squad that has been ravaged by injuries and forced to forfeit several matches on a regular basis this season.
That trend continued last Saturday, as the Tigers dropped a 54-24 decision to Colonial League rival Palmerton.
Despite Northwestern's seven forfeits in the contest, Palmerton coach David Lavin made sure the Bombers didn't overlook an undermanned Tigers squad.
HERSHEY - For the second consecutive year, the Northwestern boys cross country team earned a trip to the PIAA Championships after claiming the District 11 Class AA title.
That performance certainly set the bar high for a squad that was also coming off a second consecutive 24-2 season and a runner-up finish in the Colonial League meet. But for coach Chris Stitzel, the real accomplishment was just making a return trip to Hershey after losing a number of key runners to graduation.
HERSHEY - Northwestern's Haley Yost and Carly Pierce have come together to give the Lady Tigers a dynamic duo this season. The two propelled the team to another 26-0 regular season to go along with Colonial League and District 11 Class AA titles, with both claiming top-five finishes in each race.
That teamwork was on display once again during Saturday's PIAA Championships, as Yost finished in fourth place with a time of 19:25 while Pierce took 20th in 19:54, more than good enough to earn the two talented runners medals in the Class AA race.
ALLENTOWN - Colonial League title? Check.
District title? Check.
By defeating No. 2 Blue Mountain 4-1 in the District 11 Class AA title game, the top-seeded Northwestern Lehigh girls' soccer team made amends for a successful 2012 season that was overshadowed by losses to Saucon Valley in both the Colonial League and district championship games.
The significance of claiming both titles in the same year is something that is not lost on coach Kelly Bleam.
"It's just awesome," Bleam said.
But for Bleam, the triumph was more about what it meant to her players.
Winning streaks are common in all sports. Some span years, such as the UCLA Bruins men's basketball team that won 88 consecutive games from 1971 to 1974. Others only weeks, with the Denver Broncos' four game tear to open the 2013 NFL season coming to mind.
But it's hard to compare any streak, past or present, to the run the Northwestern Lehigh girls' cross country team has been on over the last few years.
Coming into the game, Northwestern coach Josh Snyder knew his team would be in a hard-hitting contest with a team that loved to run the ball.
The Pirates did just that, finishing with 55 carries and 230 yards as a team. On a hot and humid night, the ground game simply wore the Tigers down as Palisades claimed a 27-15 win on opening night of 2013.
"We knew going into the game that they were very physical defensively and loved to run the football," Snyder said. "We told the kids all week long that it was going to be a tough game and that's just what it was."