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HCC runners set for nationals

November 08, 2007|By ANDREW MASON

Hagerstown Community College freshman Lindsey Hollenshead has won individual cross country titles this season at McDaniel College's Green Terror Challenge, the Hood College Invitational and, most recently, the Region XX championships.

So how good is she?

"I haven't run all out yet this season, so I can't tell," said Hollenshead, a James Buchanan graduate.

She won't hold back Saturday when the Hawks compete at the NJCAA Division I championships at Rend Lake College in Ina, Ill. Hollenshead will be joined in the women's 5K race by teammate Jordan Atha, a Williamsport graduate and the Region XX runner-up, while HCC will have a complete team in the 8K men's race.

Hollenshead's personal best for 5K is still the 19:01 she ran last cross country season at JB.

"I've run hard this season, but the competition hasn't been nearly as hard as in Pennsylvania," said Hollenshead, who placed sixth at the PIAA District 3-AA championships last year. "But I know it will be tough at nationals. I'm going to dig down and give it my all."

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Roughly 20 girls in the national field have run under 19 minutes for 5K this fall. The top 15 will earn All-American status.

"That's what I want to go for," Hollenshead said. "I'm just going to go out and hopefully run the race of my life."

The HCC men, ranked 18th in the nation, are sending a complete team to nationals for the first time since 2003.

"Rankings are irrelevant because we don't see any of these teams. This weekend will be the first time," HCC coach Brian Ferrari said. "But since we're ranked 18th, we want to shoot for top 15."

With only five runners - Dustin Adams, Justin Cole, Mike Podlesnik, Ryan Shifler and Wes Brutcher - the Hawks have little margin for error.

But Adams, who won the Region XX individual title while leading the Hawks to the team title, said he felt more pressure in high school. Last fall, he led the Clear Spring boys team to its second straight Maryland Class 1A state crown.

"I don't know anyone I race against. In high school, I pretty much knew everyone," Adams said. "So I just show up and run."

In a men's field loaded with elite African runners, placing in the top 15 indvidually seems out of reach for any of the Hawks. But that doesn't mean they can't try.

"It's definitely the biggest race of my life," said Cole, a Williamsport graduate and the Region XX runner-up. "I want to PR - go under 26:20 - and make All-American status. That's what I'm going for."

Shifler is a Clear Spring graduate, and Brutcher, the lone sophomore on the team, graduated from North Hagerstown.

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