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North's girls surge to MVAL title-cross country

October 21, 2002|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - They came one right after another, first McKenzie Fox, then Jenna Line, then Jessica Hanlin. Collectively, they were the red surge that carried North Hagerstown to the girls' title Friday afternoon at the Monocacy Valley Athletic League cross country championships.

Fox, Line and Hanlin finished second, third and fourth, leading the Hubs' charge as North scored 43 points to beat runner-up Middletown - and individual champion Rocky Morgan - by 14 points.

"You can throw those three out there, and it's like rolling the dice," Hubs coach Kristy Johnston said. "You never know which one will be the best, and it really doesn't matter, they all work so well together."

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Almost from the start, the trio put its stamp on the girls race, sitting in positions two through four from the middle of the first mile on.

Though Fox tried to stay with Morgan early, Morgan used the second mile to pull away and win in a course record time of 19 minutes, 34 seconds, breaking the Smithsburg course record, set by Hanlin last year, by one second.

"I really wanted not to go out and lead the race early. I wanted to sit back and let people pull me," Morgan said. "The pace early on was slow in general, and I don't think anyone wanted to take the lead. I just thought, I'm gonna mentally and physically push this race."

"I was trying to just hang on, and it didn't work today," Fox said. "Honestly, I felt great. I couldn't hang on in the middle, but I felt great. No excuses."

Fox (20:03), Line (20:24) and Hanlin (20:25) provided more than enough firepower for the Hubs. Line in particular has come on this season after being the team's fifth runner most of last season.

"We knew last year Jenna was a natural," Johnston said. "Physically and emotionally, she's more mature. She's only a sophomore, and she has a lot of time left in front of her."

n Catoctin's Brad Topper, locked in a battle with Middletown's Justin Myers after the first mile, took advantage of the second mile and the course's first of two main hills, pulling away from Myers and everyone else to win the boys race in 16:59.

"Right after the top of the hill, I saw they died on the hill," Topper said. "I've been training on hills all summer and all fall, and I knew if there was a place where I could take them, that was it."

Francis Scott Key's Steven Staub finished second in 17:08, while North freshman Hemu Arumagum got up for third in 17:14.

Myers faded to fourth in 17:29, but behind top-20 finishes from Chet Fearon (6th, 17:38), John Coconis (13th, 17:56), Chris Kopp (16th, 18:03) and John Edmunds (19th, 18:10), the Knights won the team title, scoring 58 points to hold off FSK by seven.

"We're still trying to put it together," Knights coach Don Boyer said. "Several boys have been sick with leg injuries or heart problems, and we're trying to get everyone in shape. As a team, we can still get better."

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