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Banner day for Washington County

Clear Spring boys, Smithsburg girls sweep 1A cross country state titles

Clear Spring boys, Smithsburg girls sweep 1A cross country state titles

November 12, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

PARKTON, Md. - Cross country races can be so grueling that runners have to beat themselves into the ground in order to beat the competition.

And beating one's self is a never-ending battle.

"That's part of being a runner," Clear Spring coach Jaime Mason said. "You're never satisfied."

Maybe that's why her boys were almost hanging their heads Saturday, despite winning their second straight Class 1A team title at the Maryland state meet.

"I don't think it's hit them yet. They seem stunned," Mason said. "It will hit them later. Ten or 15 years from now, when they're back in the gym, that banner is still going to be there."

It was a banner day for Washington County in the Class 1A races.

"In our class, Washington County is the best in the state," Smithsburg junior Corey Centofonti said.

The Smithsburg girls joined the Clear Spring boys as team champions and, individually, nine county runners captured medals for their top-15 finishes on Hereford's infamously hilly 3-mile course.

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In the boys race, Centofonti improved on his seventh-place finish from last year by placing third in 17:32.

While it was the county's top individual performance, the Smithsburg junior already wants more.

"I'm hoping for a better one next year," Centofonti said. "I can't wait until next year. ... Everyone always wants to do better."

He'll likely have his hands full again with Williamsport sophomore Mike Lilley, who led Centofonti until the final meters of Saturday's race, finishing fourth in 17:34.

"(Lilley) kind of scared me," said Centofonti, who won the county title last month. "He was ahead of me the entire race until the end. I was just trying to stick it out because I wasn't feeling very good."

"He's got a kick and I don't have any kick," Lilley said. "But I was 46th last year and fourth this year. I couldn't ask for anything more."

Except for maybe another shot at Centofonti and the other frontrunners.

"I can't wait for the 2-mile in track," Lilley said. "I'll see them all there."

While Williamsport senior Justin Cole failed to improve on his third-place finish from last year, placing seventh in 17:56, he joined Maryland's elite list of four-time state medalists.

Clear Spring's Dustin Adams (18:00), Ben Courter (18:09) and Cory Horton (18:25) were the county's other medal winners in the boys race, placing eighth, 10th and 13th to lead the champions.

Williamsport captured all three of the county's medals in the girls race as Tracey Forsythe placed fourth (22:06), Jordan Atha finished fifth (22:31) and Kara Hardy was 10th (22:54).

"It was really hard. I felt horrible at the end," said Forsythe, who played soccer as a freshman last fall. "But I wanted to be in the top five, so I'm pretty pleased."

However, the Wildcats couldn't overcome the strength of Smithsburg, which packed its top five runners between Williamsport's third and fourth runners. The Leopards upset the defending champion Wildcats 75-78 for the title.

"I'm still happy with second. There's nothing wrong with that," Atha said. "I did my best. If I didn't do my best, I'd feel terrible about it. I was just shooting for better than ninth because that's what I got last year."

Smithsburg was led by Chelsea Connelly, who finished 16th in 23:45, one place out of the medals.

North Hagerstown's Brooke Pettner, the county's lone competitor in Class 2A, placed 56th in the girls race in 23:45.

And when all the races were completed Saturday, perhaps the Clear Spring boys finally found some satisfaction from the bags of chips they were eating.

"I told them state titles are like potato chips," Mason said. "Nobody's happy with just one."

Or two.

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