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Every point counts

October 24, 2004|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - Screaming cheers and congratulatory hugs.

The Clear Spring boys cross country team spread the love after learning that it had edged North Hagerstown by a single point, 47-48, for the title at the Washington County championships Saturday morning.

Every Blazer deserved a hug for defeating the Hubs, who last week beat Clear Spring by 13 points for the MVAL Antietam Conference crown.

"The whole team was motivated. After MVALs, we had to come here and show what we're made of," said Jimmy Atkins, who led Clear Spring with his second-place finish. "We just came out and all ran like 30-second PRs today. We knew what we had to do, and we got it done.

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"One point. ... Everyone was important today."

Atkins even extended a lot of the credit to Williamsport's Justin Cole and Boonsboro's Matt Wood. And rightfully so. In a mad dash to the finish, Cole and Wood outkicked North's Brandon Brown and Cameron Hanlin for the fourth- and fifth-place spots. In a close team race, every place is crucial.

Three Hubs captured all-county honors, awarded to the top seven finishers. North junior Hemu Arumugam repeated as county champ, covering the 3-mile course in 16 minutes, 45.4 seconds. Brown (17:09.0) and Hanlin (17:10.3) were sixth and seventh.

While Atkins (16:54.4) was Clear Spring's lone representative on the all-county list, the rest of Clear Spring's varsity runners - Josh Keyfauver (eighth), Dustin Adams (ninth), Ryan Shifler (13th), Ben Courter (15th), David Thoerig (16th) and Garrett Wright (17th) - all finished ahead of Travis Bolio (22nd), North's fifth and final scorer.

"I'm happy that I won, but since we didn't win as a team, it doesn't feel that great," Arumugam said. "We're definitely disappointed. I guess we just had a bad day."

The one-point margin was the closest in the 27-year history of the county championships.

"We really had to regroup and refocus after MVALs. North was just so tough last week," Clear Spring coach Jaime Mason said. "We knew it was going to be a battle."

Smithsburg, led by Ben Cooper's third-place finish (17:00.3), took third in the six-team field with 76 points.

n The girls race wasn't nearly as exciting. It was just business as usual for Clear Spring's Ashley Lockard and the Williamsport's girls team - both reigning Maryland Class 1A state champs.

Lockard easily defended her county crown in 19:21.3, winning by nearly a minute.

"The big competition is still coming," she said. "States is when it counts."

Based on Saturday's results, Williamsport probably can look forward to a third straight state title. Even had North, Boonsboro, Clear Spring, Smithsburg and South Hagerstown combined into one team Saturday, they still wouldn't have beaten the Wildcats, who captured seven of the top 11 places for a winning total of 25 points. North was second with 61.

For Williamsport, Theresa Ruland was second (20:16.2), Laura Forsythe third (20:22.4), Jordan Atha fifth (21:25.8), Amanda Breeden seventh (21:41.2), Kristin Berry eighth (21:59.8), Meghann Weaver ninth (22:21.4) and Kara Hardy 11th (22:30.7).

"That was our best team race of the year," Wildcats coach Randy Buchman said. "Our first four have run well all year, but today the 5, 6 and 7 runners were right there behind them. Kristin Berry (who's been sidelined with injuries for much of the season) looks like she's finally getting back."

North's Anna Lenhart (fourth, 21:15.2) and Smithsburg's Emily Ledden (sixth, 21:35.8) also earned all-county honors.

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