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Leopards go for win, get second

February 04, 2006|By ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

For many coaches and teams, Friday's Maryland Class 2A-1A West Indoor Track Championships at Hagerstown Community College were only about one thing: Qualifying their athletes for states.

"I didn't look at it that way," Smithsburg star sprinter Chad Brown said. "We definitely wanted to win it. And then, ultimately, we want to win states, of course."

Brown and the Leopards will get their shot at the state team title on Feb. 20 in Landover, Md. - and another shot at Liberty, which edged Smithsburg 76-67 for the region title Friday.

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The Poolesville girls ran away with their fifth straight region crown.

"Ah, it's so disappointing," said senior Derek Martin, who helped the Leopards' boys put up a pretty good fight.

No one fought harder than Brown, who won the 55-meter dash in 6.4 seconds, the 300 in 36.5 and teamed with Martin, Jamal Campbell and Charlie Wisz in the 800 relay, anchoring them to a come-from-behind victory (1:38.0). Brown's time in the 300 was a school record.

"The 300 felt great," Brown said. "I took .9 seconds off my best time. I was seeded second, but seeds really mean nothing when it comes down to it. You just have to show up and run your race."

In the 55 hurdles, Campbell and Martin flip-flopped their positions from last week's Washington County championships, with Campbell edging Martin this time for first place as both Leopards were clocked in 7.9.

"He wins, I win, we don't care," Campbell said. "We just want to get 1-2."

The boys 1,600 and 3,200 were the most competitive races of the meet as the top seven finishers in the 1,600 and top 12 in the 3,200 all qualified for states. North Hagerstown senior Hemu Arumugam won both races to remain undefeated in those events this season.

Arumugam remains unbeaten in the 3,200 in his two-year indoor track career.

"That was my last race at HCC, so I definitely didn't want to ruin that now," said Arumugam, who won the 3A-2A indoor state title in the 3,200 last winter. "I was just excited to be running against some really good competition."

He won the 1,600 in 4:29.4 - 4.1 seconds ahead of Fort Hill's Brian Jefferies, the reigning 2A-1A state champ in the event. Arumugam won the 3,200 in 9:56.4, pulling away late in the race from Francis Scott Key's Jared Welsh, the runner-up in 10:00.8.

"I knew they were going to be right there," Arumugam said. "It was tough."

Perhaps the meet's most surprising result came in the girls 55 hurdles, won by South Hagerstown senior Desiree Johnson in 9.1 seconds. It was Johnson's first career victory in the hurdles. She tied for fourth in the event at last week's county championships in 9.8.

"It was surprising to me, trust me," said Johnson, who also placed in the 55 (third) and 300 (sixth). "I came across the line and I was like, 'I think I just won.' It was a big shock."

The Williamsport girls, champions of Washington County and the MVAL Antietam, were the area's top team Friday, finishing fourth.

The Wildcats' lone victory came from Kristin Berry, Laura Forsythe, Tracey Forsythe and Jordan Atha in the 3,200 relay (10:17.9).

"We were scared because I hadn't run the 3,200 relay since last May when we won states outdoors," said Atha, the anchor, who received the baton in fourth place and was still in third place heading into the final lap.

"I was surprised to win," she said. "But when I realized how close I was on the last lap, I just went for it."

The area's other champ was Boonsboro's Sarah Johnson, who won the shot put with a throw of 32 feet, 6 1/2 inches.

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