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Hanlin best in 2A West

October 31, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - How long does it take to shake off a disappointing cross country season?

For Jessica Hanlin, it took exactly 19 minutes, 25 seconds.

That's the time the North Hagerstown senior posted to win her first race of the year Thursday at the Maryland Class 2A West Cross Country Championships on Middletown's 3-mile course.

"It's been a disappointing season. I feel like I could have done better, but I haven't performed well," said Hanlin, who finished seventh at both the Washington County and MVAL Antietam meets in the last two weeks.

"I just got it into my head, 'This is your senior year. You've had a horrible season. Let's finish off and try to do something great now.'"

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Hanlin overtook teammate Jenna Line, who had a 30-yard lead midway through the race, with a half-mile remaining and ran unchallenged to the line.

"It started off pretty slow, so I went ahead and felt pretty strong," said Line, who finished second in 19:33. "But then I guess I got carried away. I had a great lead, but I was up there by myself and didn't really have anyone to go with.

"I'm mad at myself, obviously. It's a learning experience. But I'm happy for my teammate. It was a really good effort and great for our team."

The 1-2 punch helped the Hubs punch their team ticket to the state championships at Hereford on Nov. 8. North, which needed a top-four finish to advance, placed second with 76 points.

Middletown placed all five of its scorers in the top 20 - led by freshman Lindsey Kessler's third-place finish (19:40) - to run away with the team title with 49 points. Century and Winters Mill were third and fourth with 79 each.

The North boys, needing a top-five finish to advance, placed fourth with 126. Liberty won a tight battle at the top with 74, followed by Francis Scott Key (75) and Middletown (77). Century edged Winters Mill for fifth, 130-132.

The battle for top individual honors in the boys race was equally close. With a half-mile left, North's Hemu Arumugam, the MVAL Antietam and Washington County champ, FSK's Steven Staub, the Piedmont champ, and South Carroll's Phil Diven, the Piedmont runner-up, were still packed together at the front.

Arumugam tried to open up some room, but the others wouldn't break.

"I knew it was going to come down to the end," the Hubs sophomore said. "I knew (Diven) could kick, and I knew Steven could kick. I'm not that confident in my kick.

"I thought if I could space them up there (with about 600 yards left), the kick wouldn't matter. But I couldn't do it. ... It came down to the kick."

With about 150 yards left, the kick was on. Diven, who made the first move, held on to win in 16:00, followed by Staub (16:06) and Arumugam (16:11). Middletown's John Coconis was fourth (16:19), while North's Cameron Hanlin was sixth (16:38).

South Hagerstown advanced a pair of individuals to the state meet. Chelsea Githens-Brewer finished eighth (20:06) for the girls, while Mardel Hensley was 17th (17:03) for the boys.

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