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HJC's Hartnett 4th in national meet

November 17, 1996

By JOEL HUFFER

Staff Writer

Somewhere along the way, Jen Hartnett got the rap as a runner who couldn't be competitive in big meets.

She spent the 1996 collegiate cross country season dispelling that myth, capped Saturday afternoon by a stellar performance in the biggest race of her career.

Hartnett, a freshman at Hagerstown Junior College, battled 45 mph winds and finished fourth in the National Junior College Division II Cross Country Championships at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan. Her time of 19 minutes, 44.15 seconds over the 5,000-meter course was 28 seconds slower than the champion, Carrie Gross of Flathead Valley (Mont.).

"Jen just did an absolutely super job," HJC coach Mike Spinnler said in a telephone interview. "Once you get stuck with the label that you can't compete in big meets, it's tough to shake. She got that label in high school, but she certainly shook it today. She handled herself like a 30-year-old, Olympic-caliber athlete. Today was a great mental breakthrough for her."

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Hartnett, of Clear Spring, ran the race just as she and the HJC staff had planned, Spinnler said. She broke from the main pack with a group of about 12 runners during the race's first mile and moved up to sixth place with just over a half-mile to go. She reeled in two runners over the last 200 meters and finished one second behind the third-place runner, Tammy Hoyt of Colby (Kan.).

"There was a lot of pushing and shoving in the first mile," Hartnett said. "The pack started to break down, and when it separated, I was looking ahead and trying to track (the leaders) down. At the end, I just gave it all I had. It was just too late to get (Hoyt)."

Hartnett, the nation's top freshman finisher, led the HJC women to a surprising eighth-place finish. Danville (Ill.) edged Colby, 46-49, for the team title.

"I'll tell you what eighth in the country, we're thrilled," Spinnler said. "We didn't get ranked all year long, then we came here and did exceptionally well. Fifteen years from now, I think we'll look back and say this was the turning point in our women's cross country program."

For Hartnett, it could be the foundation for a brilliant future.

"It just gives me a little more confidence going into next year," Hartnett said. "Now I know I can push even harder. It's not reality to me yet. Maybe when I get older, I'll be like, `Hey, I really did do it.'"

The other HJC finishers were Angie Fuss (26th, 20:59), Jaime Mason (74th, 22:48), Jamie Stottlemyer (97th, 24:33), Fatima Bey (101st, 24:51), Amy Bidle (103rd, 24:59) and Danielle Richardson (124th, 28:32).

C.R. Miller IV was the top finisher for the men, placing 50th in 27:48.03 over the 5-mile layout. He paced the Hawks to a 10th-place finish in the Division I meet. South Plains (Texas) defeated Butler (Kan.), 43-46, for the team title.

"I'm very proud of these guys," Spinnler said. "They finished 10th in the country and that's a great accomplishment against the caliber of runners in Division I. And C.R. Miller that son of a gun said he was going to get 50th and he outkicked a guy right at the finish to do it."

Aristo Mitchell (27:58) was close behind Miller in 52nd, followed by Jamie McCarty (61st, 29:00), Brian Sellers (73rd, 29:46), Terry Martin (69th, 29:32), Rohan Kidd (70th, 29:34) and Jared Bracken (76th, 30:10).

"I thought to finish in the top 10, we'd need a healthy Brian Sellers (who ran Saturday with a stress fracture) and Mo (Musse, who's out with an injury). But we got great efforts from Terry and Rohan, and even with Mo on the sidelines as a cheerleader, we still did it. So we're pretty pumped."

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