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Home cooking: Cole, Atha win conference titles

October 21, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

WILLIAMSPORT - At the wet and slippery MVAL Antietam Cross Country Championships on Friday morning, Williamsport senior Justin Cole was slick.

Unlike last week at the Washington County championships - when his mid-race surge was later countered by Smithsburg's Corey Centofonti, the eventual champ - Cole was patient Friday.

Centofonti led the pack in the first mile, before Williamsport's Mike Lilley took over in the second.

"I owe Corey and Mike a lot. They set the race up for me," said Cole, who never trailed by more than a few strides. "I just decided to sit on them and go when I had to go."

Cole moved into the lead with about a half-mile remaining on Williamsport's 3-mile course. And he was gone, winning in 16:40.

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Centofonti was the runner-up in 16:53, while Lilley finished third in 17:00.

"After counties, I was bummed because I didn't win it, but I used it as a learning experience," Cole said. "My plan paid off today.

"That's the way I wanted to go out on my home course. I can't describe to you how good I feel for winning a championship on my home course."

Williamsport senior Jordan Atha knows the feeling. She broke away from teammate Tracey Forsythe and Brunswick's Maria Moss in the final half-mile of the girls race, winning in 21:03.

"I just went for it," said Atha, who won the county title last week.

Forsythe took second in 21:09, and Moss finished third in 21:21.

"It wasn't looking too good," Atha said. "The entire time, they were right beside me or right on my heels.

"I was just hoping if I didn't win that Tracey would win. I just wanted Williamsport to win on our own course."

The Williamsport girls team scored 43 points to win its fourth straight Antietam title. North Hagerstown, led by Brooke Pettner's fourth-place finish (21:36), was second with 66.

"It's been a long time since we had a big meet on our own course, so it's a thrill," Williamsport coach Randy Buchman said.

Clear Spring won the boys title for the second straight year in dominant fashion, capturing five of the top nine places for 33 points. Smithsburg was second with 68.

For the Blazers, Dustin Adams was fourth (17:19), Cory Horton fifth (17:35), Ben Courter seventh (17:50), Ryan Shifler eighth (17:55) and Justin Grove ninth (18:00).

Clear Spring, the reigning Maryland Class 1A state champ, clearly has bigger fish to fry this season.

"We still take nothing for granted," Blazers coach Jaime Mason said. "The boys still get nervous, and they still know that anything can happen. Every race is a different battle.

"But we're having a really good time. It's fun to watch."

Other top-10 finishers included Williamsport's Kara Hardy (sixth, 21:45) and Smithsburg's Taylor Donley (eighth, 22:17) in the girls race and North's Phil Smith (10th, 18:11) in the boys race.

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