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Steady as Arumugam goes

Hubs junior paces way to victory in 2A West boys race

Hubs junior paces way to victory in 2A West boys race

November 05, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - Hemu Arumugam has the legs of a runner and the heart of a mailman.

Even in heavy rain, sleet, muddy conditions, the cold of the season and the start of a race which resembles rush hour traffic, nothing seems to stop Arumugam from delivering his appointed rounds - winning cross country races.

Arumugam had the worst of all worlds as cold rain, standing water, muddy terrain and - oh yes - the other two MVAL conference champions posed as obstacles Thursday in the Maryland Class 2A West championship. But the North Hagerstown junior attacked the challenge in his usual fashion.

Arumugam fell well back in the pack at the start, but maintained a straight line and consistent speed to navigate Middletown's 3-mile course and pull away for a 14-second victory, the region title and a free pass to the Nov. 13 state championship race.

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"That's the way I run most of my races," Arumugam said. "I wasn't concerned with the start. This feels real good after last year when I died at the end."

Armugam spun his third-place finish in 2003 into a dominating run in what was quietly billed as the true MVAL championship. The North junior won the Antietam title this year while Francis Scott Key's Steven Staub won the Piedmont title and Liberty's Carl Henn took the Chesapeake crown.

Henn and Staub got out ahead of Arumugam at the start as the pack collapsed together like an accordion in the first 500 yards.

Near the end of the first mile, Henn was running second and Armugam had worked his way up to the top 20.

Then the kick started as the pack crossed through the wooded patch of the course, which was like popping out of the cornfield in "Field of Dreams."

"I caught them heading over the bridge between the first and second mile," Arumugam said. "Coach (Terry Baker) told me to go out easy and let them do all the work (setting the pace)."

It worked as Arumugam pulled out to a 20-yard lead by the start of the third mile and maintained a smooth, relaxed stride to make it nearly impossible for Staub, Henn and the rest of the pack to catch him.

"I just wanted him to get out and relax," Baker said. "He's not a speed guy, but he is mature and runs the perfect race. The key today was to run the best race of your life. If you didn't do it today, your season was over. We did, so we still have another nine days left."

Arumugam finished in 16:07 and paced North to a fourth-place finish in the 11-team boys race, which was good for a team berth in the state championships. Staub used a closing burst in the final 500 yards to finish second for the second consecutive year in 16:21, while Henn raced hard to take third in 16:23.

Liberty, which swept the boys and girls titles, posted a winning total of 33 points, followed by Francis Scott Key (58), North (103), Middletown (112), Walkersville (120) and Winters Mill (138). All six schools advanced to the state meet. South Hagerstown finished 10th with 313 points.

Cameron Hanlin finished sixth (16:32), while Brandon Brown took 18th (17:19), Phil Smith finished 29th and Travis Bolio took 49th to help North reach the state meet. Mike Helman was South's top finisher in 41st place.

"Cameron ran the best race of his life and so did our No. 4 and No. 5 runners," Baker said.

In the girls race, North Hagerstown took the fourth and final berth to the state meet with 107 points, 67 behind Liberty. Anna Lenhart led the way, finishing ninth in 20:26, 1:14 behind race winner Ashlee Horst of Century.

But North Hagerstown grouped well with all five of its scoring runners finishing in the top 35, leading to the berth in the state meet.

"Our girls ran their best race with all of them clocking in under 23:30," Baker said. "Our last two runners - Cassie Dobrzanski and Brittany Pullen - ran the race of their lives and are the reason why we are going to the state meet."

Jenna Line finished 24th (21:29) for the Hubs while Susana Brown was 27th (21:34) and Dobrzanski and Pullen finished 33rd and 34rd, each in 22:11.

Liberty finished with 40 points to win the eight-team title chase, followed by Winters Mill (47), and Century (64). Walkersville finished seventh (186) while Middletown and South Hagerstown competed with incomplete teams.

Chelsea Githens-Brewer was South's top finisher, taking 40th.

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