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MVAL 'picture' develops into photo finishes

January 17, 2006|by KEVIN SPRADLIN / Staff Correspondent

If Monday night's MVAL Antietam indoor track championships were a high-resolution digital photograph, the snapshot would pretty much look just like the one that was taken last season.

Sure, the Williamsport girls won their third straight conference title. Yes, North Hagerstown distance star Hemu Arumugam set meet records in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. Just like last year.

The real story was in the background pixels of the track-and-field event.

Smithsburg became the third different boys team in as many years to carry the team championship trophy away from Hagerstown Community College.

"January starts championship season," Smithsburg coach Ray Shriver said. "After Jan. 1, we take pretty much every meet seriously. We want them to have that type of mindset."

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Smithsburg scored 107 points to outdistance Williamsport (70) for the team title, followed by upstart Brunswick (69), North Hagerstown (67) and Boonsboro (37).

The Leopards won in large part, thanks to junior Chad Brown, who won the 300 and 55 dash. Then, Brown ran anchor behind Derek Martin, Jamal Campbell and Charlie Wisz to win the 800 relay.

"He's just an amazing kid," Shriver said of Brown. "Chad's just got blazing speed. He's a natural for the 55."

Both coach and athlete, though, believe the 300 may be his best event.

"I think the 300 is probably a lot better for me," Brown said.

Brown said he has difficulty getting a good start in the shorter event, but in the 300, "I got time to catch up if I need to. A bad start doesn't hurt you as bad."

The Williamsport girls got off to a good start. Their quest for a third straight title was never in doubt as they racked up 104 points. Clear Spring was second with 70 points, followed by Smithsburg (67), Boonsboro (63) and North Hagerstown (41).

While Williamsport got the usual results, the faces scoring the points have changed.

Williamsport coach Cindy Mease said she's particularly "blessed" to have a balance of young and veteran runners. Williamsport has 20 seniors and 28 freshmen. Two of the freshmen - Amy Taylor and Morgan Keplinger - helped the Wildcats tothe 800 relay title.

Top-seeded Williamsport almost captured the 1,600 relay as well, but Boonsboro's Hayley Harnett - who had already won the 500 - anchored the Warriors and overcame Williamsport's Jordan Atha on the last lap.

"I don't like to be ranked first," Harnett said after the 500. "I'd rather chase than be chased. It's the mindset. If you think someone's better than you, you race faster."

Atha had just finished winning the 800 in 2:30.5.

"You know what she came up to me and said after that?" Mease said. "She said, 'I'm sorry.' She's sorry for running a 66 (split) after running a 2:30.5."

Plenty of records fell, too. Six individual boys records were set and a seventh mark was tied.

Arumugam lapped more than half the field atl east once in the 1,600 en route to stopping the clock in 4 minutes, 28.7 seconds, and improving his record from last season by 11.9 seconds.

"I'm in much better shape this year," said Arumugam. "I really wanted to break 4:30. I've never done that (indoors)."

Arumugam, who is headed to MIT next fall to study aerospace engineering, also lowered his 3,200 record to 10:08.1. The defending Class 3A-2A state 3,200 champ is anxious to compete in the Hubs' new 2A-1A classification, while looking to improve his mile time.

North coach Craig Bathgate said Arumugam is motivated by his third-place finish in the 1,600 at last year's state meet.

"He's working on improving in the 1,600," Bathgate said. "He's doing shorter, faster races. It's pretty clear it's working. I don't know his personal goals but, knowing him, I don't think he likes third too much."

Boonsboro's Pete Frey set the meet pole vault record at 12-feet, 6-inches. Clear Spring's Cory Horton, Dustin Adams, Justin Grove and Ben Courter set a meet mark in the 3,200 relay with an effort of 8:58.7. Brunswick's 1,600 relay team of Robert Hoffmaster, Ben Trettel, Russell Hoyt and Quinton Jones set meet and school records with a 3:45.7, while teammate Ben Horner set the shot put record at 49-11. Martin tied the 55 hurdle record in 7.6 seconds.

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