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There's gold in them thar hills for runners

November 11, 2005|By ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

There's not much of a difference between Maryland's very best Class 2A and 1A distance runners and Washington County's.

They might even be one and the same, as the county's swiftest will try to prove Saturday at the Maryland State Cross Country Championships at Hereford High School in Parkton.

The Williamsport girls, who've won two of the last three 1A team titles, are aiming to make it three of four. The Clear Spring boys, who equaled their best state finish last year by placing third, want to climb two steps higher on the 1A podium. And North Hagerstown senior Hemu Arumugam, who's won three state gold medals in the 3,200-meter run in track, will try to add the missing piece to his 2A treasure chest.

"That's one thing I'd really like to get," said Arumugam, who won his second straight 2A West title last week. "I'm really going to go after it."

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Arumugam placed seventh at states as a freshman and sixth as a sophomore, before fading to a 28th-place finish last year on Hereford's infamously hilly 3-mile course.

"The hills change everything," he said.

He also will have to contend with Atholton junior Andrew Revelle, the defending state champ who won last week's 2A East race. The last time the pair met, Arumugam edged Revelle by 1.29 seconds as they went 1-2 in the state 3,200 last spring.

"Track is my stronger sport, and the one thing I'm strong at in cross country is the flatter courses," Arumugam said. "But another year makes a lot of difference. Hopefully it will work out for me this time."

Willliamsport senior Makenna Hardy, one of the Wildcats' fab-five freshmen in their 2002 title run, is just happy to be able to contribute this season. Due to an injury, she was unable to compete last year when Williamsport finished second to Loch Raven (now a 2A program), ending the Wildcats' two-year reign.

"Standing from the sidelines last year at states, it was very upsetting," said Hardy, who led Williamsport to its fourth straight 1A West title last week. "There was all this talk about the dynasty, and it was like, 'What happens next?'

"Now, we really want to come back and win. We're ready. We don't want to make any guarantees, but it'd be nice to wrap up our senior year with another state title."

Josh Keyfauver, the lone senior in Clear Spring's top five, desperately wants to end his prep cross country career with a team championship. The Blazers beat two-time defending state champ Beall to win their first 1A West title last week.

"We've been talking about it since last spring. It's been a long time coming," said Keyfauver, Clear Spring's top runner. "That'd be the icing on the cake. It'd be a shame to get that far and not get it. Being a senior, it's how I've always wanted to go out."

The Blazers are fully aware that Beall still has experience on its side.

"Hereford's course takes its toll and beats you up," Clear Spring coach Jaime Mason said. "Beall has the advantage in that they train on more hills ... and they've won there.

"It's going to be another horse race."

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