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Patriots hit new heights

September 25, 2002|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

WOODSBORO, Md. - Thomas Johnson harriers Chris Lemon and Chelsea Powell both conquered the mountain with similar approaches Tuesday at the second annual Mountain Run Invitational at Woodsboro Park.

"We're not used to going straight up," said Lemon of the vicious 800-yard climb that the runners had to tackle during mile one of the three-mile race. "We just wanted to take it up relaxed and go after people after that."

That's exactly what Lemon and teammate Marshall Lawrence did in the boys race. Lemon took over the lead from Catoctin's Bradley Topper - who led the field up the grueling incline - just past the two-mile mark. Lawrence quickly followed, and the TJ duo slugged it out down the stretch for top honors. Lemon hit the line first in a meet-record 16:49 (eclipsing the mark of 16:53 set by Clear Spring's Ryan Davis last year), Lawrence took second in 16:54, and Topper finished third in 17:16.

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"(Lawrence) is my wingman during races and vice versa. We keep each other going," said Lemon. "We wanted to go out relaxed and finish consistently. I picked it up at the end and it worked out for me."

While Powell was the first girl to reach the mountain top - hitting the peak just steps in front of Frederick's Ashley Myers - the Patriots sophomore waited until the climb was behind her to break the race wide open.

"I haven't really had any races (with a climb) like that before," said Powell. "I was pushing it, but I wasn't trying to sprint up. I wanted to save some.

"I was just trying to run my own race. I didn't really make any decisive move."

But Powell's move, once she cleared the summit, was nothing short of decisive. She opened a 60-second lead on her closest competitor by the two-mile mark on her way to a meet-record victory in 19:26 - shattering the 20:19 Smithsburg's Laura Stoffer won with last year. Williamsport's Amanda Breeden took second in 20:47, while Myers finished third in 20:53.

Powell also set the pace for a team victory for Thomas Johnson, which put three runners in the top seven and all five scorers in the top 14 to top the nine-team field with 38 points. Williamsport was the runner-up with 46.

Considering his top five girls are all freshmen, Wildcats head coach Randy Buchman couldn't have been happier about being a close second.

"They ran really well," said Buchman. "They're fantastic and they're all freshmen. I'm just so excited about the potential they have. It'll be fun to see what they can do."

While the Patriots took three of the top six spots on the boys side, Middletown packed in its top five - led by Chet Fearon's fourth-place finish - before TJ's No. 4 runner to eke out the team title with 51 points. The Patriots took second with 53.

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