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Williamsport, Clear Spring still the best of the West

November 03, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

CLEAR SPRING - Washington County proved Thursday that once again it has the best cross country teams in Maryland Class 1A West as the Williamsport girls won their fifth straight region title and the Clear Spring boys their second straight.

Those bragging rights tend to only increase at Hereford, where the Wildcats and Blazers will both race for their second straight state titles next weekend.

"Usually this is the toughest region in the state," Williamsport coach Randy Buchman said.

Last year, the Clear Spring boys chased down Beall - the then-two-time defending state champion - two weeks in a row to nab their first region and state titles.

This year, the Blazers are the ones setting the pace.

"This was the first time (at regionals) that people were watching us," Clear Spring coach Jaime Mason said. "Everybody is trying to chase us down. Teams are trying to close the gap."

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It's a gaping one.

The Blazers placed all five of their scorers in front of runner-up Northern Garrett's No. 2 runner to easily beat the Huskies, 52-95. Beall was third with 98.

Cory Horton had the race of his life, placing fourth overall in 16:30 to lead host Clear Spring on its 3-mile course.

"Cory Horton! I don't even know what to say," Mason said. "He went to a different level today."

Horton finished just a fraction of a second behind county champion Corey Centofonti of Smithsburg, who also finished in 16:30 for third.

Northern Garrett's Ryan Bowser (16:14) and Beall's James T. Carney (16:28) were first and second, while Williamsport's Mike Lilley (16:34) and Justin Cole (16:47), the MVAL Antietam champ, were fifth and sixth.

"I don't know where Horton came from," said Lilley, who previously this season was the only county runner who could contend with Centofonti and Cole.

"I wasn't expecting him at all," Centofonti said of Horton.

The Blazers' other top finishers couldn't have surprised many in the 82-runner field. Dustin Adams was seventh (16:56), Ben Courter 10th (17:06), Ryan Shifler 14th (17:20) and Justin Grove 17th (17:25).

"The boys ran fantastic today," Mason said. "Everybody ran their best times of the season."

In the girls race, Smithsburg was the first team to put five runners across the finish line. But the Leopards couldn't overcome Williamsport's frontrunning trio of Tracey Forsythe (20:16), Jordan Atha (20:23) and Kara Hardy (20:56).

Forsythe - a close runner-up to Atha at the county and conference championships - placed second this time to Allegany's Lauryn MacFawn (19:31), the reigning state champ. Atha finished fourth and Hardy was seventh as the Wildcats held off runner-up Smithsburg, 78-93.

"One's as good as the other each day," said Buchman of Forsythe and Atha. "They run together and then it's who's got the most at the end."

Natalie Mancini placed 13th in 22:04 to lead the Leopards, who had five in the top 25.

"The key is our 4 (Jess Johnson, 31st) and 5 (Kellie Quinn, 35th) having a good day," Buchman said. "And they did."

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