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McAbee becomes HCC's next distance star

January 20, 2001

McAbee becomes HCC's next distance star



By DAN KAUFFMAN / Staff Writer


When Alex McAbee arrived at Hagerstown Community College in 1999 after graduating from North Hagerstown, he didn't have to look far to find someone to pattern his track career after - Tim Mason, the Hawks' all-everything distance runner from 1998 until 2000, a multitime NJCAA All-American and a national champion in the 5,000-meter run outdoors last year.

"He's a great runner," McAbee said. "As far as runners go, he's a very hard worker and a smart runner. He's certainly been an inspiration."

Now, as Mason prepares for his next challenge at West Virginia University, McAbee is starring in Mason's old role as HCC's leader.

On Saturday, Mason - running for the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club - and McAbee went head to head in the men's 3K race at the 2001 HCC Indoor Track and Field Invitational. McAbee, a sophomore, got the better of Mason, winning in 8 minutes, 58.5 seconds. Mason finished in 9:03.8.

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"It was fun not because of who I ran against, but because I showed myself I'm getting back in control," McAbee said. "This was a great confidence boost for later meets with the bigger schools."

"Alex is a good friend of mine," Mason said. "I see him as being right where I was at this time last year. If I can give him a hand in any way, I'm more than willing."

McAbee finished his day with a second victory in the mile, clocking 4:34.5. Now he sets his sights on accomplishing the same goals that made Mason an HCC standout, when HCC travels to Virginia Tech in three weeks.

"I just want to get All-American in the 3K indoors or the 5K outdoors," McAbee said. "That's my goal."

McAbee already has something Mason doesn't - an NJCAA national marathon championship, which he won in June of 2000.

"The natural thing is, we're comparing Alex's accomplishments to Tim's times and performances," HCC track coach Mike Spinnler said. "He's at a very similar spot that Tim was ... at this point last year.

"He has a national title in his pocket, and he's hungry for more."

Meanwhile, Mason will continue training with the CVAC before he enters WVU this fall. He's not looking back at what he's accomplished, instead choosing to look forward.

"Every now and then you sit back, look up and see what's ahead of you," Mason said. "I'm thrilled to death, and I can't wait. I've been looking forward to training with a Division I program."

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