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Hawks go it alone on college track

March 02, 2001

Hawks go it alone on college track



By BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

This weekend, Marques Sneed is out for himself. Angie Rhoderick also admits, she has her own agenda.

It's a philosophy that doesn't seem to bother Hagerstown Community College track coach Mike Spinnler. In fact he's encouraging it.

The Three Musketeers' motto of "All for one and one for all" would be lost on the HCC track team when it competes in the NJCAA Championships, which begin today at Kansas State.

Spinnler doesn't harbor any illusions of the Hawks scoring a lot of team points - like they did last season. Instead of working for a common goal, the strategy will look something like when a Bluelight special is announced at K-mart.

"Last year, we went out there hoping to finish in the top 10," Spinnler said. "That was because we had Tim Mason and he ran his events and a relay out there. That meant we could score a lot of points. This year, we can't do that. We aren't going in with any team goals, just to highlight each athletes individual talents so they can catch the eye of recruiters (of track programs at four-year schools)."

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HCC sends nine athletes - three women and six men - to do their best to get their best offer.

"That's the way track is," said Sneed, from Catonsville, Md. "It is all for one and one for all, but it is scored off of what individuals accomplish to help the team. No matter what, you have to do your best for yourself and then it helps the team."

Sneed, along with Johnavin McKinley, Chris Pereschuk and Anthony Robinson, are in an interesting situation at the nationals. The quartet will be competing in the 3,200-meter relay, where they own the best qualifying time in the nation.

"The 4x800 is a pride thing for us," Spinnler said. "We've been entered in it the last couple of years and like to do well in it. They ran a 7:58.08, the top time in the country, but that won't stand up at nationals. It's going to take at least a 7:46, which will mean they will all have to run the race of their lives."

Then, each will also be given the opportunity to run individual "open" races to show their talents. McKinley and Robinson will each participate in the 800 while Pereschuk is scheduled to run in the 1,000.

Sneed, though, will be cast in what may be the most grueling of them all, the 600, a race that's to short for distances and too long to sprint.

"The 600 is a very challenging event," Spinnler said. "It is a long sprint, but it gives Marques the best chance to be recruited."

Sneed's specialty is the 400, but he's going the extra mile to go the extra 200 meters. The 600 is not a normal track event, run primarily at the nationals.

"It's better that way because I'll be as blind as everyone," Sneed said.

Spinnler approached Sneed with the odd distance, convincing the sprinter that it will make him more marketable.

"The first time I ran it, it was uncomfortable," Sneed said. "I had to figure out how to run it. It will make me a better runner in the 400 because it will help me build up my endurance."

Other men participating for HCC are Alex McAbee in the 5,000 and Vikram Gowda in the shot put.

For Rhoderick, the nationals will be her chance to see everything come together.

"I've got a lot better since high school," said the Boonsboro graduate. "In high school, I thought I was stuck there and I wouldn't get any better."

But Rhoderick began working with Maria Spinnler on her technique and her mental approach to racing. She turned the corner at the national Cross Country championships last fall but really began to feel it in the last three weeks.

"In the last two weeks, I've improved and knocked off 26 seconds off my 3,000 time," said Rhoderick, who will be joined by pole vaulter Christine James and sprinter Serena Wheeler for HCC in the women's field.

The realization doesn't go without new personal demands.

"I want to finish in first place," Rhoderick said. "That's what I need for success. I won't be happy with anything else."

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