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Compelling showdowns on tap for Don Stoner

September 29, 2005|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

Berkeley Springs sophomore Rachel Buser vs. Potomac Falls senior Kiersten Petersen.

North Hagerstown senior Hemu Arumugam vs. Gettysburg junior Bryan Beegle and Potomac Falls senior Max Werner.

Those will be some of the featured showdowns Saturday at the 16th annual Don Stoner Invitational at Smithsburg, where Buser and Arumugam - last year's Herald-Mail All-Area Runners of the Year - might be challenged to the be the Runners of the Day.

"That's going to be some real nice competition," said Smithsburg coach Ray Shriver, the meet director.

Buser, the reigning West Virginia Class AA-A state champ, has yet to be beaten this season.

In Petersen's first visit to Washington County this season, no one came close to beating her. She won Boonsboro's Frank Keyser Invitational by more than a minute, covering the 3 miles in a course-record 18:46.

Buser won last year's Don Stoner Invitational in 18:46, while Petersen was fourth in 20:10.

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Arumugam, who won his second straight Maryland Class 2A state title in the 3,200-meter run last spring, will have his hands full trying to win his first Don Stoner title. He was fourth last year in 16:48.

Beegle, who was third last year in 16:41, is off to a strong start this fall, picking up where he left off last spring. He finished his sophomore track season with an impressive double at the PIAA District 3-AAA meet, going 4:24.93 in the 1,600 and 9:36.90 in the 3,200.

Meanwhile, Werner beat both Beegle and Arumugam last year, finishing second in 16:36, and he already has defeated Arumugam this season. Werner was second at Frank Keyser, while Arumugam finished 18 seconds behind him in fifth.

Saturday's 25-school field will be the first to tackle the new version of Smithsburg's course, which has been lengthened from 3 to 3.04 miles.

"We added a third hill," Shriver said. "A bunch of my upperclassmen came to me and said they wanted to make the course more challenging. Now there's a hill in every mile. This will be the first meet on the course, so it will be interesting."

Another interesting matchup Saturday will be Williamsport vs. Berkeley Springs in the girls team race. Both are strong contenders to win state titles later this fall.

- The Williamsport girls will be looking to regain some of the swagger they might have lost this past Saturday at the Carlisle (Pa.) Invitational.

After cruising to early-season wins at the Frank Keyser and Brunswick invitationals, the Wildcats went to Carlisle aiming for the same results.

"I went up there thinking we could win it, that we had a shot at it," Williamsport coach Randy Buchman said. "But Pennsylvania running, man oh man. It's just another league. I felt like one of the 12 spies reporting back to Moses about the Promised Land. We were grasshoppers in their sight. It was just amazing."

But the Wildcats still held their own. Competing in the second of two varsity girls races, they placed fifth out of 39 teams.

Chambersburg, led by individual champion Sarah Morrison, won the Reebok Challenge - the 15-team elite race at Carlisle.

"My girls are great and running well, but they don't even have the desire to go after it like that, like Chambersburg, like the Reebok Challenge," Buchman said. "It was just extremely impressive. I wish we could go to that level. If we raced like that all the time, which I wish we did, we might learn to do that."

To accomplish their No. 1 goal this season, though, they probably won't have to do that.

"Looking around the state, I cannot find another competitive 1A team out there at all," Buchman said.

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