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County runners set pace for Hagerstown Community College

November 07, 2008|By ANDREW MASON

Dustin Adams, Wade Miller and Ryan Shifler helped the Clear Spring boys cross country team win its second straight Maryland Class 1A state title in 2006.

Two years later, they're still together -- and winning.

Adams placed second, Miller was third and Shifler was seventh at the recent Region XX Cross Country Championships, as they helped Hagerstown Community College win the men's team title.

"Thank the Lord for Clear Spring right now," HCC assistant coach Jaime Dick said.

Other Washington County schools have chipped in, too.

Corey Centofonti, a two-time county cross country champ for Smithsburg, won the region race. Justin Cole, a four-time state medalist in cross country for Williamsport, was fifth.

Dick and head coach Brian Ferrari have turned their local recruits into the 21st-ranked team in NJCAA Division I.

Throw in former Pennsylvania prep stars Mike Podlesnik and Jeremiah Wilt -- who both were sidelined for the region meet -- and the Hawks are set for the national championships Saturday in Spartansburg, S.C.

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"Top 15 is our goal," Dick said. "That's what they're capable of doing."

Like most collegiate men's races, the national meet will be contested over 8 kilometers (nearly 5 miles).

HCC placed 24th out of 35 teams at nationals last year.

"Our fifth guy last year ran 30 minutes," Dick said. "This year our top five can all run under 27:30. That should be a 200-point swing."

"Hopefully we'll all be under 27," said Centofonti, who's clocked a team-best 26:56 this fall.

Adams led the Hawks at nationals last year, placing 67th out of 261 in 26:56.

"We're definitely much better this year and a lot closer, too," Adams said. "We all have fun together and hang out."

The top 15 overall finishers earn All-American status, while the top 25 U.S. citizens are Coaches' All-Americans.

"One of them could sneak in there," Dick said.

Former Williamsport standout Jordan Atha, who will be HCC's lone representative in the 5K women's race, might have the best chance.

"Jordan definitely has a shot," Dick said. "It's going to be very hard for her to do it, but based on the workouts she's been doing, she can do it. It's going to be about how badly she wants it."

Atha, this year's Region XX champ, placed 89th at nationals last season in 19:51.

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