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Hawks set to compete in national track meet

March 05, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

While Hagerstown Community College track coach Brian Ferrari dreams of bigger numbers, half of his Hawks are living the dream.

Seven HCC athletes are set to compete this weekend at the NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, which begin today in Lubbock, Texas.

"Seven -- that's awesome, just awesome," Ferrari said. "We have 14 people on the team and seven get to go to nationals.

"We definitely want more people on the team. But with what we have, if half of them are hitting the standard, it's a good thing. It's amazing."

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The top three finishers in each event earn All-American status. The next six U.S. citizens are Coaches' All-Americans.

HCC sophomore Jordan Atha, a Williamsport graduate, has achieved Coaches' All-American honors in cross country and outdoor track. Indoor track is all that's missing.

"I've been running really good workouts, so I hope that I can do it," said Atha, who is seeded 11th in the women's mile with a time of 5:26.06. "My goal is to run a 5:20. That's what I'll need. And Coach says I can run even faster than that."

Fellow sophomore and Williamsport alum Justin Cole is seeded ninth in the men's 1,000 in 2:34.52. He competed in the event last year at nationals but failed to make the finals.

"I learned not to sit and kick, because their kicks are a lot stronger than mine," Cole said. "I just need to go out from the gun and, if I have to, take the lead and do the work myself."

HCC sophomore Mike Podlesnik (Meyersdale, Pa.) -- a Coaches' All-American in the men's mile last year -- is running the 1,000 this year. He is seeded 18th in 2:36.46.

"Hopefully we can work together," Cole said.

Freshman Corey Centofonti (Smithsburg) is seeded 10th in the men's 5,000 in 15:28.46, while sophomore Dustin Adams (Clear Spring) is 13th at 15:33.88. African Stephen Sambu of Rend Lake College is seeded first at 13:58.03.

"We're going to get beat by like eight Kenyans, but we both have good chances to be Coaches' All-Americans," Centofonti said. "There are like six or seven guys between 15:20 and 15:35, so it should be a good race."

Freshman Liz Ross (Chambersburg, Pa.) is seeded seventh in the women's shot put at 42 feet, 5 1/2 inches.

"In practice, I've been throwing farther," Ross said. "I'm looking for 45-46 feet. I can do it."

Also for HCC, freshman Samantha Valiton (Chestnut Ridge, Pa.) is seeded 14th in the women's 600 in 1:42.89.

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