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Hampshire gives Cougars their own 'Mr. October'

October 25, 2007|By ANDREW MASON

October is Cory Hampshire's month.

The Jefferson junior enters Saturday's West Virginia Class AAA State Cross Country Championships at Cabell Midland on another tear.

Hampshire began the month by winning his third straight title at Clear Spring's Interstate Classic. He then won his second consecutive Apple Valley League crown, followed by his third straight Region II Class AAA title.

Hampshire pulled away from his competition in the second half of each of those three races, which was unlike his strategy earlier in the season, when he wasn't quite as successful.

"He has one heck of a gas tank. He can just keep coming and coming and coming when other guys are wearing down," Jefferson coach Scott Biola said. "Beginning of the season, he was trying to win from the gun, go wire to wire."

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Saturday, he'll try to improve on his fourth-place state finish from last year. Hampshire currently is ranked third in the state in Class AAA by runwv.com, while Jefferson's boys team is ranked fourth.

Trying to beat top-ranked and defending state champ Ryan Beabout of Wheeling Park won't be easy for Hampshire.

"It can be tricky when you have a team behind you that's pretty good," Biola said. "You have to run a smart race and not go on a suicide mission to try to win."

The Cougars, who placed fifth in the state last year, will aim to become the area's first Class AAA boys team champion in 20 years. Martinsburg won it all in 1987.

Wheeling Park is ranked first in the state, followed by Cabell Midland and defending champ University.

"We're a dark horse," Biola said. "We haven't faced Wheeling Park this year, but we faced Cabell Midland and University and they both beat us.

"But if a couple of our guys step up, we potentially have a shot at it."

In Class AA-A, Berkeley Springs senior Rachel Buser, fresh off winning her fourth straight Region II crown, will try to make it four straight state titles. Jessica Taylor, who won four straight Class AA-A state titles for Fayetteville from 1997-2000, is the only West Virginia runner to ever accomplish such a feat.

Another win by Buser would be the Indians' sixth straight. Valerie Peer won state titles for Berkeley Springs in 2002 and 2003.

The Berkeley Springs boys will try to bring an end to another streak - Ravenswood's seven-year reign as team champion. Ravenswood is ranked first in the state, while the Indians are second.

Berkeley Springs junior Lenny Roach also will aim to dethrone defending champ Levi Grandt of Doddridge. While Roach beat Grandt to win the GEICO Classic on the state-meet course Sept. 8, Grandt came back to beat Roach in their next two meetings, both at Berkeley Springs.

Washington County meet

Smithsburg will host the 30th annual Washington County championships Saturday. The girls race begins at 10 a.m. and the boys race starts at 10:45.

The Williamsport girls have won the last four county titles, and the Clear Spring boys have captured the last three. Smithsburg, however, is the favorite to win both Saturday after sweeping the MVAL Antietam team titles last week.

Williamsport junior Tracey Forsythe ran away with the Antietam title and likely will do the same Saturday.

Smithsburg senior Corey Centofonti vs. Williamsport junior Michael Lilley is the most intriguing matchup.

Centofonti is the reigning county champ and hasn't lost at home in two years. However, he has yet to beat Lilley this season - unless you count Centofonti's Antietam win last week.

Lilley appeared to have the Antietam race in the bag with a 20-second lead at 2 miles, but he wound up taking a wrong turn and dropping out. That should only add fuel to his fire Saturday.

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