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Centofonti, Atha claim individual county titles

October 14, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

SMITHSBURG - Williamsport's Justin Cole and Mike Lilley might have overlooked a crucial factor while making their plans to take the top two spots in the boys race at the 29th annual Washington County Cross Country Championships on Friday.

"They underestimated me," Smithsburg junior Corey Centofonti said.

Entering the final mile on Smithsburg's 3.04-mile course, Centofonti was sandwiched in second place, 20 yards behind Cole and 20 yards ahead of Lilley.

"I knew (Centofonti) was going to be there," Cole said. "But I didn't expect him to hang on like that."

By the end of the race, Cole was the one barely hanging on - to second place.

Centofonti caught him and put him away in the last half-mile, winning in 16:43. Cole was the runner-up for the second straight year in 16:57, and Lilley finished third in 17:02.

Williamsport's Jordan Atha and Tracey Forsythe took the top two spots in the girls race, leading the Wildcats to their fourth straight county title and 10th overall. Clear Spring won the boys team title for the third straight year and fourth time overall.

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"People have good races and bad races," Centofonti said. "Today was my good one and (Cole's) bad one. He couldn't even get up off the ground afterward."

"He just went for it at the right time," Cole said. "I guess I went for it too early.

"Hopefully I can come back. Next week's (MVAL Antietam championships) are on my home course. I have to do better. I can't go out like this."

In the girls race, Forsythe pushed Atha for most of the way, running a few strides behind her, before giving her the courage to finally break away.

"There was a little less than a mile to go, and I was feeling really bad," Atha said. "And she encouraged me. She's a true teammate and a true friend."

"I told her, 'There's only one hill left. You're almost there,'" Forsythe said. "She had a lot more left than I did."

Atha won in 20:58, 12 seconds ahead of Forsythe. Kara Hardy placed fourth (21:36), Jessica Johnson finished 12th (23:43) and Cora Domsky was 16th (24:14) for the Wildcats, who edged North Hagerstown, 35-41.

"Our fourth and fifth girls are the keys for us," Williamsport coach Randy Buchman said. "They're getting better all the time, which is encouraging."

Smithsburg, Williamsport's top concern before the race, was third with 56 points.

"Cross country is funny," Buchman said. "You come in worrying about one team, and in the middle of the race, you start worrying about another one.

"North ... they were really ready today. I could see the energy was really high in them."

Brooke Pettner placed third (21:34) and Susana Brown was fifth (22:38) to lead the Hubs. Smithsburg's Taylor Donley (22:54) and Chelsea Connelly (23:07) finished sixth and seventh to round out the all-county team.

The battle between Centofonti, Cole and Lilley was followed by a sea of yellow in the boys race, as Clear Spring captured the remaining four all-county places. Cory Horton was fourth (17:12), Dustin Adams fifth (17:30), Ben Courter sixth (17:36) and Justin Grove seventh (17:55) for the Blazers, whose 32 points were completed by Ryan Shifler's 10th-place finish (18:11).

"We all wanted to win, of course. We just tried to work as a team," Horton said. "We all felt good, I guess. Whether we feel good or bad, we always fight."

The Smithsburg boys were second with 62 points, while Williamsport was third with 74.

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