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."
Rebuilding is something Brad Rauch wasn't forced to do in his first two years as Northern Valley's baseball coach.
But as Rauch begins his third season, that's exactly what he's faced with as the Chargers (1-3) begin play in the highly competitive Lehigh Valley Legion League.
Northern Valley enjoyed a tremendously successful season in Rauch's first year, as the team went 15-3 in 2011 and captured the regular season title. That momentum carried into last summer, as the Chargers went 9-9 and again earned a spot in the playoffs.
Palmerton and Northwestern have emerged as two of the Colonial League's strongest teams this season. They showed why with a back-and-forth battle on Tuesday afternoon.
The Northwestern boys edged Palmerton by a score of 80-70, while the Tiger girls picked up an 82-68 win over the Lady Bombers.
Northwestern's boys only won four events, but their depth proved to be the difference.
The Tigers (4-1) scored points in all events, placing multiple athletes in the top five on 12 occasions, which offset the seven event victories by the Bombers.
To say the Northwestern wrestling team had a tough act to follow after last year's district tournament would be an understatement. The Tigers crowned two champs last year, with Mike Ortiz (152) and Levi Veppert (182) both earning gold.
Veppert graduated, but Ortiz returned to capture his second consecutive gold medal, this time at 170-pounds. Ortiz came into the tournament as the top seed and left little doubt that he was the class of the field.