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Indoor Track Notebook: Hubs on track

January 16, 2001

Indoor Track Notebook: Hubs on track



North Hagerstown's girls should've been recognized long before now but at the Monocacy Valley Athletic League meet on Jan. 6 the Hubs came away with their first MVAL title in school history, in the process dethroning a Middletown team that had won the girls meet the previous three years.

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North Hagerstown doesn't win with stars. No one on the team stands head and shoulders above the rest (except Lindsay Zerance, who is simply taller than everyone else). But everyone on the team did their part in making the Hubs this year's queens of the MVAL.

The team was back at it again last Saturday at the Dwight Scott Western Maryland Relay Championships, where the girls finished third despite not winning a single event. Instead, the Hubs finished second twice, third four times and fourth once more as only Thomas Johnson and Frederick - far bigger programs - outscored them at the end of the day.

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A team within the Hubs' team -Paige O'Flaherty, Katie Hull, Michelle Fickes and Nikki Holman - underscores North's team-first mentality. They broke the school record in the 800-meter relay at the MVAL meet, and did it again at WMR with a time of 1 minute, 53.1 seconds. Only Frederick ran faster, besting the Hubs by one second.

"I thought Frederick would beat us by a lot, but we stayed with them," Fickes said. "TJ was seeded ahead of us and we beat them. Frederick, TJ, these schools are bigger, and it feels good that we're right with them."

"I'm really pleased with how the relay team is doing," O'Flaherty said. "This is our second season together, and we're really close. ... We've got a lot of confidence in ourselves. We've got confidence we can go to states and bring back a medal for the county."

"We have plenty of confidence," Holman said. "We broke our record at MVALs, and we just broke it again. We want to qualify for states (the Maryland state meet), place in states and keep breaking our record."

"We're never surprised with our results," Hull said. "We're always looking how we can improve upon it."

Part of what makes these Hubs so good is they never stop improving. The 800 team is merely one example.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> This just in ... North Hagerstown's boys team isn't too shabby, either.

The Hubs finished second to Middletown at WMR, a week after an identical finish in the MVAL meet. But one group of Hubs - Tom Hardinge, Tyler Snyder, Erik Lenhart and Steve Heagy - had the Knights' number twice last Saturday.

The foursome started their memorable day in the very firstevent - the distance medley. The event combines runs of 800, 400, 1,200 and 1,600 over four legs. Hardinge ran the 800 leg, while Snyder ran the 400. The goal for both was to leave their teammates in position to win.

"We didn't get a great handoff going into the 400, and that was the first time I ran it," Snyder said.

"This whole week I've been sick, so my goal was just to run a strong race," Hardinge said. "I knew we had Steve finishing up, I knew he could do it for us."

However, before Heagy ever got a chance to run with the baton, Lenhart took all the pressure off by running a blazing third leg, starting in fourth place and finishing out in front, passing Middletown, TJ and Fort Hill along the way.

"I had a feeling I was one of the faster guys in the leg," Lenhart said. "I was thinking not to do it all in one lap, I had six laps to do it in."

"All I have to say is Erik gave me such a lead, all I had to do was stay in front of Middletown," Heagy said.

The foursome teamed up later in the 3,200 relay, and this time is was Heagy, running the anchor leg, who caught and passed Middletown's Mark Samuel for the team's second victory.

"We haven't been challenged until today," Heagy said. "Today we got challenged, and we responded well."

Another pair of Hubs, Mark Noll and David Miller, joined up for the pole vault competition, where teams combined their two best performances for a total score.

No one came close to matching North's duo, as Noll matched Miller's school record of 13 feet, while Miller cleared 12-6 for a team score of 25-6 - enough to defeat Boonsboro by five feet.

"We're two pretty experienced vaulters, and when you put our heights together, it's perfect," Noll said. "I got a new pole on Thursday, and I can explode with it."

"This type of event really shows how good a school is in a certain event," Miller said. "Mark and I have always been among the top vaulters in the area, and when we combine our scores, we're tough."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Frederick, a school known for its sprint program, easily won the boys 800 relay at WMR. The second-place team -- Smithsburg -- was a bit of a surprise.

But Justin Bates, Miguel Forero, Patrick Aaron and Zachary Kieffer teamed up to hold off TJ in 1:38.4. The Patriots finished three-tenths of a second back.

"That amazed me," Forero said. "We all tried our best, did our best, and now we need to get ready for the big meets."

The team itself was shifted around for the run. Aaron, who usually runs the anchor leg, instead ran the third leg while Kieffer, who usually runs the second leg, got a chance to close things out. Forero and Aaron got just enough of a lead on TJ for Kieffer to hold on down the final straightaway.

"We wanted to get out in the lead and give it to him," Aaron said. "We've been pushing him all week so he could hold it."

"All week, they've been working me hard in practice," Kieffer said. "They told me they would give me the lead, and all I'd have to do is hold it."

(This week's notebook was compiled by staff writer Dan Kauffman.)

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