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Leopards'Centofonti defends his home turf

October 14, 2007|By ANDREW MASON

SMITHSBURG - While Corey Centofonti won't say that he's unbeatable on his home course, it'd be difficult for anyone to argue otherwise right now if he would.

The Smithsburg senior improved to 5-0 over the last two seasons on the Leopards' hilly 3.04-mile course, as he successfully defended his title Saturday at the 18th annual Don Stoner Cross Country Invitational.

"It's a pretty tough course, but I'm used to it. I run it every day," said Centofonti, who topped the 83-runner varsity boys field in 16:37.

He led from the start, with only Middletown's Jimmy Greene able to hang on through a 5:10 opening mile.

"I just wanted to get out strong and be aggressive in the first mile," said Centofonti, who didn't allow Greene to hold on for long. "I gapped him in the first 400 after the mile. That's when I broke him. I knew I had it then."

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Gettysburg's Michael Beegle was the runner-up in 17:02, Clear Spring's Ben Courter placed third in 17:08 and Greene finished fourth (and first in the big-school division) in 17:13.

Beegle is the younger brother of Bryan Beegle, who owns the course record of 16:22 from his 2005 Stoner Invitational win.

"I wanted to get the course record," Centofonti said. "But I was a little short."

He'll have one more chance at it when the Leopards host the Washington County championships on Oct. 27.

Centofonti, who won last year's county race at Smithsburg, might need every bit of his home-course advantage to retain his title. He's 0-3 this season in his head-to-head matchups with Williamsport's Michael Lilley.

"Today was a good confidence builder because I've been getting beaten down with Mike beating me all the time," Centofonti said. "I'm going to work my butt off to get him."

The race for the boys small-school team title couldn't have been any closer. Smithsburg and Clear Spring each finished with 52 points, but the Leopards prevailed because their sixth runner - Chris Ecker - beat the Blazers' sixth man.

"This just helps to show the kids how vital every runner is," Smithsburg coach Ray Shriver said. "Every runner is important, and sometimes the kids who are 6 and 7 don't feel that way."

It wouldn't have come down to the tiebreaker, however, if Smithsburg's David Wilson had run the varsity race. Wilson, coming back from a knee injury, easily won the JV race in 17:12 - a time that would have placed him fourth overall in the varsity field.

The varsity girls race looked like a dual meet between Gettysburg and Brunswick, as the two schools captured the first nine overall places. Five of the first six spots went to Gettysburg, which won the small-school team title with 16 points, led by individual champion Chloe Kornack (20:16).

Natalie Mancini placed 11th overall and 10th in the small-school division in 21:47 to lead the Smithsburg girls to a third-place finish.

Thomas Johnson swept the boys and girls big-school team titles.

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