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Area athletes have eyes for state titles

May 26, 2004|BY ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

"Being region champ doesn't guarantee being state champ," Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff quickly stressed after his Leopards won the girls team title at the Maryland Class 1A West Track & Field Championships last Friday.

But considering the state's 1A girls track powers all seem to reside in the West region, being region champ should guarantee Smithsburg to be a strong contender, if not the favorite, for a ninth straight state title this weekend.

"All the seniors talk about is that we want to go out as winners," said Smithsburg senior Tara Knable, the defending state champ in the shot put and discus. "We want that ninth straight championship title."

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The state meet at Morgan State University in Baltimore begins Thursday for 1A and 2A, Friday for 3A and 4A and concludes Saturday for all schools.

The Smithsburg girls beat Poolesville, which shared the state title with the Leopards last year, 134-108 for the region crown. Boonsboro was third, Brunswick fourth and Wiliamsport fifth.

"I'll be really surprised if there's somebody stronger than the top three or four teams in our region," Orndorff said. "There'll be one other team, maybe two who will be competitive, but I don't really know who they are."

The region meets mostly were about qualifying athletes for states. The state meet is about letting them fly and scoring points.

Williamsport - paced by its star-studded distance trio of Devin Hewitt, Rhet Troxell and Aaron Buchman - edged Poolesville by a half-point for the 1A West team crown.

The Wildcats, who clearly only ran to qualify at regionals, should benefit greatly from the distance events being split into two days, Thursday and Saturday.

"At the state meet, we can run harder because of the two-day effect," Williamsport distance coach Taylor Oliver said. "We might only score in six or seven events, but we hope to score big in the distances. That's what our anticipation is. We're going down with the intention to win a team title."

In Class 2A, the defending state champ Middletown boys will be aiming for their fifth title in the last six years. The Knights ran away with the West title last weekend, topping runner-up Century, 149-84.

"We have points," Middletown coach Don Boyer said. "It's going to take 55 or 60 to win and, if we equal our best performances, we should score that. We have the boys to win. But I'm never confident about winning going into states, because you never know how you match up and it's all about the matchups. All I can say is that we're going to be a contender."

Individually, loads of area athletes will be in the hunt for gold medals.

Boonsboro senior Dan Robinson, the defending state champ in the 110-meter hurdles, is aiming for both hurdles titles Saturday.

"I've got good confidence. Every time I race, I get more confident," said Robinson, who's seeded first in both the 110 and 300 hurdles. "Two golds, that's the big goal. I'm trying to have it all."

Boonsboro junior Sarah Hensley had it all last year, winning the both the 100 and 300 hurdles. Smithsburg senior Corina Campbell, who's gone back-and-forth with Hensley in both hurdles events this season, likely will continue to make it interesting. They enter with the top times in each event.

Boonsboro also has top seeds in senior Kara Wastler (1,600) and freshman Hayley Harnett (400, 800).

For South Hagerstown, junior Jennifer Schoolfield is seeded first in the long jump by more than a foot with her 2A West-winning jump of 17 feet, 1 1/4 inches.

North Hagerstown senior Nevelle Pierre, who won 2A West gold in the 200, high jump and triple jump and silver in the 800 relay, can only hope his success continues at the state level.

"All I can do is my best," he said. "But I'm hoping my best is four first places."

Last year at states, North's Hemu Arumugam set an all-time Washington County freshman record in the 3,200, running 9:51.54 to place third. While he hasn't run faster since, Arumugam is seeded first in 2A at 10:00.10.

"I just want to do better than third," Arumugam said. "Well, I want to win, or at least beat my time."

North's Jessica Hanlin, fresh off her region titles in the 3,200 and 1,600, isn't worried about times, at least not those of her competitors entering the meet.

"I'm just going to go in oblivious and see what happens," said Hanlin, who has the No. 2 time in the 3,200 and No. 7 time in the 1,600. "I'm just going there to run my race, no matter who's there. Last year, I knew exactly what my competition was and it kind of freaked me out."

Area athletes competing at states:

Boonsboro (1A) - Girls: 400 relay; 800 relay; 1,600 relay; Kristie Johnson (1OO hurdles, triple jump); Sarah Hensley (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Kara Wastler (1,600, 800); Hayley Harnett (400, 800); J. Weddle (pole vault); Eileen Stump (pole vault); Sarah Murto (pole vault); Ashley Rhoderick (discus). Boys: Dan Robinson (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles, long jump); Brian Smith (400, 800); Peter Frey (pole vault).

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