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HCC track stars trek to higher learning

August 12, 2000

HCC track stars trek to higher learning



By DAN KAUFFMAN / Staff Writer


They came to Hagerstown Community College from all over the tri-state area. Under the tutelage of coach Mike Spinnler, they conquered at the junior college level, racking up numerous All-America honors.

Now, Justin Ward, Matt Peters and Becky Walter lead several HCC track and field athletes to the next level, hoping the success they found in Hagerstown will follow them to the next stop on the journey.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Ward, a two-time NJCAA All-American in the 4x800-meter relay (outdoors in 1999, indoors in 2000) who was a co-captain in 2000, signed a letter of intent with Monmouth (N.J.).

"My career at Hagerstown, it was beneficial for the two years I was there," said Ward. "It's time for a change, and I think I'm ready."

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"He's got good talent and a fantastic work ethic," Spinnler said. "Justin has improved steadily, if not dramatically, after high school."

Ward, who is also an Academic All-American, plans to join Monmouth's indoor track team after graduating HCC in December.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Peters traveled all over the country before deciding on East Tennessee State, where he's hoping to follow up on his three eighth-place NJCAA finishes in the shot put (indoors in 1999 and 2000; outdoors in 2000).

"I've been to a bunch of Division I schools in the nation," Peters said. "I'm real satisfied with this."

Under Spinnler and field events coach Andy Reid, Peters became HCC's best thrower, sweeping the Northeast District outdoor championships in the shot put and discus in 1999 and 2000.

"I give (the coaches) a lot of credit, because they got me into the big meets," Peters said. "I watch (Spinnler) coaching, he's so intense, he'd get me pumped up just because of how he'd coach."

"(Peters) is definitely an untapped talent," Spinnler said. "There are schools where (shot put and discus) is their focus, their specialty. Matt has the potential to get better."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Walter, HCC's record holder in the women's pole vault at 11 feet, 6 inches, will take her talent to Gardner-Webb (N.C.).

"Becky's big time," Spinnler said. "Of the crop of kids that we have coming out, I would not be surprised to see her in the Olympic Trials in 2004. She has that kind of ability."

The high praise is well deserved for Walter, a four-time All-American who finished no worse than third in all four NJCAA championships she competed in.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Dawn Shatzer had a phenomenal year two years ago before a chronic foot injury limited her last year. Now recovered, Shatzer will head for Milligan College, an NAIA school in Tennessee.

"1999 was a dream for her," Spinnler said of a year in which Shatzer finished second in the NJCAA marathon championship and earned All-America status outdoors in the 5-kilometer and 10K. "She's 100 percent healthy now, her injuries are behind. I think Dawn will come back real well, she's handled this in a mature fashion."

Shatzer scored an HCC-record 80 points in the 1999 Northeast District championships, leading the Hawks to their only district title in school history.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> David Burke, an Academic All-American who finished eighth in the NJCAA marathon this year, has signed with the University of Charleston (W.Va.), a Division II school.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> James Burriss, the Northeast District decathlon champion in 1999 and 2000, heads to Youngstown St. (Ohio) without a scholarship. He hopes to make the team as a walk-on.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Renata White, a sprinter who finished fifth in the NJCAA heptathlon outdoors with a school-record 4,406 points this year, has several suitors, including Norfolk State, Eastern Kentucky, Southeastern Louisiana and Bethune-Cookman (Fla.). She will graduate from HCC in December.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Latia Adams and Tiesha Jones, both sprinters for the women's team the past two years who will graduate in December, are looking at Division II schools. Adams is looking at Hampton University (Va.), while Jones is considering, among other schools, Georgia State and Clark Atlanta College.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Tim Mason, the NJCAA 5K champion indoors in 2000, will stay at HCC through the 2000-01 season to finish his degree, then plans on heading to West Virginia University.

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