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Hawks running out of options

November 11, 1999|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Every runner that competes in the NJCAA Division I and II cross country championships in Lansing, Mich., today through Saturday wants to win.

For Hagerstown Community College, winning isn't everything.

Throughout the season, HCC's runners have competed against the best teams and athletes possible - and not just at the junior college level.

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"We're competing against four-year schools, and they've done fairly well," HCC coach Maria Spinnler said.

The spirit of competition drives these Hawks. So over the next three days, win or lose, HCC's athletes will find out just where they stand among the best.

"We just want to go out there and run well," men's captain Tim Mason said. "We defended our (Region XX) championship ... and we just want to continue that to the next level."

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For the men, that next level is the Division I race, where some of the nation's best runners will all try to catch the eyes of NCAA Division I scouts.

"A lot of the best runners go to junior colleges. It's big-time recruiting for the four-year schools," Spinnler said. "That's what it's all about.

"Having the opportunity to run against people at the (NJCAA) Division I level ... a lot of these kids will go on to four-year schools. That's our whole goal."

"We're still a long way from the NCAA level, but it gives us something to shoot for," Mason said.

The men's team is a compilation of several local runners. Mason is a 1998 Clear Spring graduate, Alex McAbee, Brad Mentzer and Chris Pereschuk all graduated from North Hagerstown, Doug Oates is from Boonsboro, Kevin Schultz is from James Buchanan and David Burke is from Frederick.

"We're a true community college," Mason said. "It's a lot of fun being on the same team with them. It's always been a battle with them, trying to outdo them in high school. It's always better running with people you know, it makes things easier."

Men's co-captain Justin Ward, also from Frederick, won't run due to an injury.

The women's team, which will compete in the Division II championships, is composed mostly of athletes looking to get in shape for the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons. Sarah Danner, a Smithsburg graduate, and Becky Walters, a Middletown grad, are local athletes on the team.

"Most of (the women are) sprinters that are getting in shape," Spinnler said. "Becky is our pole vaulter ... the only true distance person that we have is Sarah."

Four runners - captain Renata White, Tieesha Jones, Latia Adams and Serena Wheeler - all hail from Mervo High in Baltimore.

LaTeka Bushrod is from DuVall High in Prince George's County.

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