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Blue Storm's Finucane reaps what he sows

December 12, 2007|By ANDREW MASON

Probably no area runner trained as hard as James Finucane did this past June, July and August.

"I ran about 750 miles over the summer, including two weeks over 80 miles," the Mercersburg Academy senior said. "But I didn't push it every day. I just listened to my body."

He got his answers this fall.

Finucane, of Chambersburg, Pa., placed in the top three in eight of Mercersburg's nine races and won four of them.

"It was a good season," said Finucane, the 2007 Herald-Mail Boys Runner of the Year. "The summer mileage paid off."

His first victory of the season came on Sept. 25 at the Hedgesville Invitational, where he beat Jefferson star Cory Hampshire - the reigning Runner of the Year - by 30 seconds.

Finucane's final victory was perhaps his finest, as he successfully defended his Mid-Atlantic Prep League title in dominant fashion in the Blue Storm's last meet of the year. He covered the 3.1 miles at Peddie School in a course-record 15:55, winning by 42 seconds.

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"Breaking the course record there was a big goal of mine. That was probably my best race," he said. "It was flat, and you could just fly. Plus, it was the end of the season, and everyone was just laying everything out.

"The difference between this season and last season was that, in previous seasons, every race was going all out. This season, I was able to treat some races as tempo runs, which really made me more prepared at the end of the season."

Mercersburg coach Betsy Willis noticed the difference.

"He learned a lot in terms of racing strategy and improved his strategic running," she said. "At halfway (at the MAPL meet), he was leading, but not my much. And then he really took off the second half. That's what he's learned about himself - that he's strong, that he's a closer, that he's a finisher."

Finucane also won the Landon Invitational and a tri-meet with Musselman and Martinsburg. He was the runner-up at the Forest Hills and Altoona invitationals and had third-place finishes at the Mercersburg Invitational and the Pennsylvania Independent School state meet.

Finucane also competed independently at the Foot Locker Northeast Region championships in Bronx, N.Y., on Nov. 24. He placed 61st in the boys seeded race, covering the famous - and challenging - 3.1-mile course at Van Cortlandt Park in 16:34.2. He beat such standouts as Oakland Mills' Kyle Mills, the Maryland Class 2A state champ; Northern Garrett's Ryan Bowser, the Maryland Class 1A state champ; and Bishop McDevitt's Joe Beveridge, the PIAA Class AA state champ.

"(Finucane) is certainly the top male runner that I've coached in my six years here," Willis said. "He's a strong athlete. He has a good future in the sport."

Finucane hopes to become an NCAA Division I runner at the University of Pennsylvania, where he's applied early. His second choice is Cornell.

But he still has some unfinished business to take care of in his final indoor and outdoor track seasons at Mercersburg.

He has personal records of 1:57.5 for 800 meters, 4:23.9 for 1,600 and 9:54.0 for 3,200 - the latter of which he hopes to improve upon significantly.

"I want to run low to mid-9s for the 2-mile and under 4:20 for the mile," he said. "I just have to be patient and do the work.

"But the nice thing about running is that it always prepares you for the next season. The summer mileage and cross country workouts will pay off."

Joining Finucane on the All-Area First Team are:

· Corey Centofonti, Smithsburg - The senior won titles at the MVAL Antietam and Washington County championships and at Smithsburg's Don Stoner Invitational. He was the runner-up at both the Maryland Class 1A state and West region meets.

· Brandon Doughty, Jefferson - The freshman was the top area finisher at the West Virginia Class AAA state championships, placing 10th in 17:06. He placed fourth at the Region II meet, helping lead the Cougars to the team title.

· David Eubanks, Chambersburg - The junior won the Enos Yeager Invitational and was the runner-up at the State College Invitational. He earned all-conference honors at the Mid-Penn championships and was the lone area boy to qualify for the PIAA state meet.

· Cory Hampshire, Jefferson - The junior set a course record at Clear Spring, winning the Interstate Classic overall title in 15:51.0. He also had victories at the West Virginia Region II AAA, Potomac Valley Conference AAA and Apple Valley League championships. He placed 11th at the state meet.

· Michael Lilley, Williamsport - The junior placed third at the Maryland Class 1A state and West region championships and was the Washington County runner-up. He won small-school titles at the Brunswick Invitational and Interstate Classic at Clear Spring and placed second at Boonsboro's Frank Keyser Invitational.

· Lenny Roach, Berkeley Springs - The junior was the West Virginia Class AA-A state runner-up. He set a course record at Keyser (16:36), winning the Potomac Valley Conference AA-A race, and also won titles at the Musselman, Forest Festival, GEICO Classic and Bull Run invitationals.




All-Area Second Team



· Ben Courter, Sr., Clear Spring

· Cory Horton, Jr., Clear Spring

· Chris Ledden, Sr., Jefferson

· Tim Sick, Sr., Chambersburg

· Jordan Smith, Sr., Chambersburg

· Louie Talbott, Sr., Musselman

· David Wilson, So., Smithsburg

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