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Spartans? The Snyders are leading them this fall

September 14, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

McConnellsburg's Chris Snyder emerged as one of the Tri-State's top distance runners on the track as a junior last spring, posting times of 1:59 for 800 meters, 4:28 for 1,600 and 9:58 for 3,200.

"I came out of my shell last spring," Snyder said.

He's now setting the pace for the McConnellsburg cross country team.

Wait ... McConnellsburg cross country?

Yeah, the Spartans have a team - though it's a squad of only three boys - for the first time in ages. They're coached by Robert Snyder, Chris' father, a 1974 McConnellsburg graduate who was a star runner at Penn State.

"McConnellsburg hasn't had a cross country team in a while," Chris Snyder said. "Once Dad graduated, it pretty much dwindled out."

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Snyder's cross country debut earlier this month couldn't have gone much better. He won Chambersburg's Enos Yeager Invitational by 15 seconds, covering the 2.3-mile course in 13:21.

"It was different," said Snyder, who used to spend his autumns playing soccer. "It's a little more pressure than soccer, but it's more fun because I love to run."

Last Saturday at the Gettysburg Invitational - one of the region's most competitive meets - he placed 19th out of 152 runners in the Group 1 boys race, clocking a 16:55 on the 5K course.

"About a mile into it, I was ninth," said Snyder, who logged 50-60 miles per week over the summer. "But that's when experience overrode strength, because I have the strength."

He said his ultimate goal for the season is to place in the top 25 at the PIAA state meet in November.

Morrison back in front

Chambersburg star Sarah Morrison was sidelined for nearly the entire track season last spring with mononucleosis.

The senior has wasted no time making up for the lost time this fall.

Morrison outdueled Big Spring's Lara Crofford to win the Enos Yeager Invitational in a course-record 14:33. Crofford - who finished second, one place ahead of Morrison, at last year's state cross country meet - was the runner-up in 14:39.

On Tuesday, Morrison led the Trojans to a 24-31 win over arch-rival Cumberland Valley that likely will decide the Mid-Penn Commonwealth dual-meet title.

Morrison owns Tri-State track records in the 800 (2:14.10) and 1,600 (4:52.44).

Atha going the distance

Williamsport senior Jordan Atha has the most impressive resume of any Washington County prep distance runner. She won Maryland Class 1A gold in the 1,600 and silver in the 800 at the state track meet last spring.

The trick will be getting similar results this fall.

"I was spent," said Atha after placing ninth at the Fank Keyser Invitational last Saturday. "Three miles is not something I'm excited about all of the time. Well, I'm excited about it, but it's harder for me because it's longer."

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