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CVAC's Neely Spence wins Northeast title

November 26, 2006|by ANDREW MASON

BRONX, N.Y. - Neely Spence, representing Hagerstown's Cumberland Valley Athletic Club, won the girls seeded race at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional Cross Country Championships on Saturday.

"It's a big moment in CVAC history," said Mike Spinnler, president of the CVAC. "We've had some bright moments, but this is groundbreaking. It's exactly what we exist for, to help truly dedicated scholastic and post-scholastic athletes realize their dreams."

Spence, a home-schooled 16-year-old from Shippensburg, Pa., covered the challenging 3.1-mile course at Van Cortlandt Park in 17:41, edging runner-up Hannah Davidson of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., by 1 second.

"I didn't take the lead until about 200 meters to go," Spence said. "That's where I really started kicking. I didn't know I had it won until after I broke the tape."

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Spence, the first Pennsylvania girl to win the region title in 16 years, will compete in the national championship meet in San Diego on Dec. 9. The top 10 finishers from each of the country's four regions advance to nationals.

"My goal the whole season was to make it to nationals," Spence said. "I've never been to California before, so it's really awesome.

"I've watched the Foot Locker (national) race on TV the last four years. That's why I started running, because I was like, 'I want to do that some day.' And here we are."

Spence, the daughter of 1992 Olympian Steve Spence, won the PIAA Class AAA state title earlier this month as a first-year varsity runner for Shippensburg High School.

Chambersburg senior Sarah Morrison finished 75th in the girls seeded race Saturday in 19:28.

In the boys 11th-grade race, Smithsburg's Corey Centofonti, the Washington County champion, finished 16th in 17:06.

In other divisions: Ninth-grade girls - Chambersburg's Laurie Jones placed 32nd (21:31); ninth-grade boys - Chambersburg's Scott Morrison finished 69th (20:06) and Smithsburg's Jacob Shriver 132nd (24:46); 11th-grade girls - Smithsburg's Chelsea Connelly was 107th (24:14) and Jamie Lee Wisz 155th (30:48); 12th-grade boys - Smithsburg's Casey Bauer was 213th (20:31) and Matt Shriver 218th (20:38).

In the South Regional in Charlotte, N.C., Berkeley Springs junior Rachel Buser - the three-time West Virginia Class AA-A state champion - finished 98th in the girls seeded race.

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