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Three HCC runners headed to nationals

March 03, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

Tony Clement's season- and personal-best time in the 1-mile run is 4 minutes, 17.50 seconds - a time that ranks him No. 5 nationally on the NJCAA performance list for the 2005-06 indoor track season.

The Hagerstown Community College freshman, one of three Hawks who will compete this weekend at the NJCAA indoor championships at Kansas State University, said he's prepared to run as fast as it takes to be No. 1 at the finish line Saturday.

"If there's a chance for us to have a national champion, realistically, he's it," HCC coach Andy Reid said. "He's got as good of closing foot speed as anybody in the race. I know that."

Clement said he thinks he has a 4:10 in him.

"I still don't know what's possible," he said.

Butler County's Joseph Maina (4:10.38) and Cowley College's Daniel Maina (4:11.86) have the top two times in the country this winter.

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"I'm going into this thinking positively," said Clement, a 2005 graduate of Windber (Pa.) High School. "I want to come out on top - stay behind the No. 1 and No. 2 guys and try to outkick them at the end.

"It all depends on the pace and what happens in the race. You never know what can happen."

Clement also has the No. 5 time in the 3,000 (8:42.73) and the No. 11 time in the 800 (1:55.69). But he's opting to just run one race at nationals.

"I just want to focus on the mile," he said. "It's the one I have the most experience with."

Former Boonsboro High School teammates Kara Wastler and Brittany Strite, both sophomores, will compete for the HCC women - Wastler in the 800 and mile and Strite in the 5,000.

Last year at nationals, Wastler and Strite were members of the Hawks' fifth-place distance-medley relay, while Wastler also placed fourth in the mile in 5:15.36.

Wastler's best time in the mile this season is 5:24.30, which ranks her No. 10 on the national performance list. Butler County's Diane Nukuri is No. 1 at 4:49.97.

"I just want to do better than last year," said Wastler, adding that she's focusing more on the mile than the 800. "Last year I seemed to do it somehow so I guess it's in me somewhere."

Wastler is No. 19 in the 800 at 2:28.24.

Strite is No. 13 in the 5,000 at 19:33.32 - her personal record, but more than 2 minutes behind No. 1 Nukuri (17:18.41).

"I just want to get a PR," Strite said. "I'm worried about time, not place."

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