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Hawks track team soars to Odessa

May 09, 2001

Hawks track team soars to Odessa



By DAN KAUFFMAN

dankauff@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Community College's track team will take flight for the NJCAA Championships today with its focus a little more grounded than usual if coach Mike Spinnler can do anything about it.

Ten Hawks - eight men and two women - will board a plane for Odessa, Texas this afternoon with dreams of victory in their heads, but Spinnler has more realistic goals in mind.

"There's no standout athletes this time around," Spinnler said. Instead, the measuring stick for all the Hawks is All-American status - given to the top six U.S. finishers in each event - and a spot on the podium.

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Brian Small will attempt to make HCC history in the decathlon. The school record-holder for points in a decathlon (5,846, set earlier this year) could become the first Hawk to earn All-American honors in the event.

"He is a great competitor," Spinnler said. "If he does well, he'll lift the spirit of the team. Six thousand points will put him on the podium."

Marques Sneed, a two-time All-American indoors, will have his hands full in the 400.

"The 400 is a world-class event at the JuCo nationals," Spinnler said. "He's got nothing to lose and everything to gain."

Three North Hagerstown alums will compete for HCC.

Alex McAbee, a returning All-American from last year, will have to battle both the opposition and a bursitis injury while competing in the 10,000-meter run.

Johnavin McKinley will have to battle to make the finals of the 800. His personal best is 1 minute, 54 seconds, but Spinnler believes it will take a little more.

"If history holds, he'll have to run 1:53 to make the final," Spinnler said. "He'll have to run the race of his life, but I think he's ready for it. If you get in the final, anything can happen."

Chris Pereschuk, whose first 3K steeplechase run was 18 days ago and who has yet to lose in the event in three races, faces tougher competition this weekend.

"He's a real sleeper going in," Spinnler said. "If he plays his cards right, he can place."

Jerome Goodman, who plays on the HCC men's basketball team, walked onto the track team and heads to Odessa to compete in the high jump. His personal best is 6 feet, 6 inches.

"I'm excited to see what he does when he's in among six or eight jumpers like himself," Spinnler said.

In addition, HCC will send two relay teams - the 4x100 team of Ali Wimbush, Kevin Merrick, Small and Sneed, and the 4x400 team of Wimbush, Merrick, McKinley and Sneed.

On the women's side, two local high school graduates - Boonsboro's Angie Rhoderick and Clear Spring's Christine James - will compete.

Rhoderick, a freshman with three-time All-American performances already, will run in the 5K and 10K, while James will do battle in the pole vault.

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