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Berkeley Springs serves more than its 1-2 punch

September 22, 2005|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

With senior Valerie Peer and sophomore Rachel Buser on the Berkeley Springs girls cross country team, everyone knew before this season even began that the Indians had the best 1-2 punch in West Virginia Class AA-A.

Now, they're finding out that Berkeley Springs might have the best team, too.

While Indians coach John Rowland said that won't be known until the state meet Oct. 29, his girls let it be known last Saturday that there's more to them than just Buser and Peer.

Competing on the state-meet course against most of the other state-title contenders at the Chick-fil-A Invitational in Mineral Wells, W.Va., Berkeley Springs edged Winfield 76-88 for the small-school title Saturday. Winfield entered the meet No. 1 in runwv.com's Class AA-A power rankings, while the Indians were ranked fourth.

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"It's a tremendous confidence booster for our team," said Rowland, whose team placed fourth at states last year. "All the big dogs were there."

Of course, none bark louder than Buser and Peer.

Buser, the defending state champion, won the Chick-fil-A Invitational in 18:22 - just 3 seconds off the course record she set in last year's state meet on the 3.1-mile course. Peer, the state champ in 2002 and '03 and runner-up last year, was second in 19:12 - 32 seconds ahead of third place.

But Buser and Peer couldn't beat Winfield by themselves.

"It's incredible to be blessed with two kids that have this kind of talent at one time. But you can go 1-2 and still lose," Rowland said. "The other girls are working hard to complement our 1-2. Our third, fourth and fifth girls are smart and know that their scores will make or break us."

Junior Breanna Henry, sophomore Kari Mundey and senior Adrienne Moretz helped the Indians break the competition Saturday. Henry placed sixth (20:37), Mundey 21st (21:49) and Moretz 51st (24:03) in the 97-runner field.

Rowland said his girls should only get faster.

"We haven't done much speed stuff yet," he said. "We're just working on a good distance base and some small sharpening stuff, but nothing like we're going to do in October."

Their next trip to Mineral Wells is when it really counts.

"It's in the back of our minds," Rowland said. "But the way I look at it is that we're running the mile and we're in the third lap with the lead, but there's still a lot of jostling going on. If we stay healthy, it could be real interesting in late October."

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