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Knights run to MVAL sweep

January 06, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

Middletown took a robot-like approach to winning both girls and boys Monocacy Valley Athletic League indoor track & field titles at Hagerstown Community College on Friday.

The Knights seemingly just programmed in the points they needed to edge runner-up North Hagerstown 85-83 on the girls side and blow away the field with 129 points - 68 more than runner-up Smithsburg - on the boys side.

"The girls did what they had to do when it counted," said Middletown coach Jen Zeltwanger. "We had a lot of top performers today that really stepped up."

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None stepped up bigger than the Knights girls 1,600-meter relay squad, which prevailed in the evening's final event to secure the win. Middletown also won the 800 relay and picked up a pair of victories from distance star Rocky Morgan in the 1,600 and 3,200 runs.

Knights senior Bryce McKinney paced the boys, winning both the 500 and 800 titles.

"I wasn't expecting (to win), but we needed it," said McKinney. "I came here and did what I had to do and pulled it out."

The same was true for Justin Myers - the defending champ in both the 1,600 and 3,200 - who pulled out perhaps the day's most dramatic win in the 3,200. After taking second to Catoctin's Brad Topper in the 1,600 earlier in the meet, Myers, who was a distant third with a lap remaining in the 3,200, brought the stands to its feet by roaring all the way back.

"Before the meet, we had a talk about the places we needed to get, and a first in the 3,200 was one of them," said Myers. "I was far behind, but I saw the finish and I just went for it. It was all I had after the 1,600."

n The North girls did seemingly all they could do for an MVAL three-peat, before falling just short with a third-place finish in the 1,600 relay.

The Hubs were led by double-winners Helen Barnhart (3,200 relay, 800) and Paige O'Flaherty (55 hurdles, high jump).

"It was really important," said O'Flaherty. "We've done so well before and I didn't see why it should stop."

North also got a breakthrough performance from sophomore Sharnay Burnett, who won the shot put with a personal-best toss of 35 feet, 5 1/2 inches on her very last attempt.

"It's the best moment of my track career," said Burnett. "It was actually amazing."

The Williamsport boys turned some heads in their 1,600- and 3,200-relay victories. Wildcats Rhet Troxell, Mike Barnes, Matt Rouse and Aaron Buchman began the day with a meet-record 8:36.2 in the 3,200 relay, and Abe Phares, Neil Forsythe, Troxell and Phil Taylor capped it with a meet-record 3:38.5 in the 1,600 relay.

"We have a lot of talent, and we hope this is only the beginning," said Buchman, who anchored the 3,200 relay. "We want to go all the way to states and be a No. 1 contender there."

Smithsburg had its pair of show stoppers.

Courtney Brown blazed to wins in both 55 and 300 dashes in girls action, while Dustin Sier cracked the tape in the boys 55 dash in 6.4 seconds, equaling the meet record.

Don't tell Clear Spring's Ashley Lockhard and Jeremy Everitts that their efforts didn't count Friday - just because the Blazers aren't in the MVAL yet.

Running exhibition, Lockhard held off Middletown's Morgan to cross the line first in the girls 1,600, while Everitts went past Topper and Myers in the final lap of the boys 1,600 for the unofficial win and before outracing the field again in the 800.

"We knew up front we weren't in the league and we weren't going to count," said Blazers coach Terry Baker. "But they know what they did, and it certainly feels good."

Clear Spring is joining the MVAL in the fall of 2003.

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