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Cross country warmups over

November 03, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

"'This is where the season begins. All the other meets we had were warmups,'" North Hagerstown cross country coach Lindsay Zerance said she told her team before the MVAL Antietam Conference championships. "'The fun times are over. Now it's time to get serious.'"

Apparently those words didn't fall on deaf ears.

The North girls were all business at their last two races, capturing team titles at the MVAL Antietam meet on Oct. 16 and the Washington County championships last week.

Next up for the Hubs is the Maryland Class 2A West region meet Thursday at Middletown, where they'll face the Century Knights, who are favored to win the state title Nov. 14 at Hereford.

The North girls finished second to Century at last year's region meet, and would probably gladly settle for another runner-up finish Thursday. But Zerance doesn't want second place to be her team's goal.

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"Century is just stacked," she said. "But if we can infiltrate their top five and get some girls in there and mix it up, we have a chance. I think we could do it. Basically, the girls just have to believe that they can do it."

North senior Alison Harrell, the individual champ at the Antietam and county races, said she hopes to improve on her 10th-place finish at last year's region meet.

"I'm trying to get in the top five," she said.

While the Smithsburg girls finished second to North at both the conference and county championships, they might be the team to beat Thursday at the Class 1A meet at Williamsport. The Leopards finished ahead of Southern Garrett, the defending region champ, at both the Interstate Classic and Frank Keyser Invitational earlier this season.

"We're going to go for it," said Smithsburg coach Ray Shriver of the region title. "The girls have been working hard for it and are psyched enough to do it. It's definitely within the realm of possibility."

The Williamsport boys have their sights set on a second straight Class 1A West team title after dominating the MVAL Antietam and Washington County meets for the second straight year.

"We have a strong team and an opportunity to repeat with a new set of faces," Williamsport coach Randy Buchman said. "But you can never tell what the Western Maryland teams have because they're allowed to run cross country and play soccer there, so you never know who's going to show up."

Sophomore Evan Hardy, a first-year runner, has led the Wildcats all fall. He placed third at the county meet, while senior Graylon Wright -- the only returning varsity runner from last year's Williamsport team -- was fourth.

"Evan Hardy has been a great asset," Buchman said. "And the kid I'm really pleased with is Graylon Wright. He ran a lot of miles over the summer, and it's all paying off right now."

The 1A West race also will feature David Wilson vs. Ian MacFawn.

Wilson, a Smithsburg senior, is undefeated this fall, as is MacFawn, an Allegany junior. They'll meet for the first time this season on Williamsport's 3-mile layout, where Wilson won last week's county title in a course-record time (15:34).

"I'm sort of nervous," Wilson said. "I haven't been pushed that much."

All in all, Washington County's runners seem ready to roll.

"We have good runners here," Harrell said. "We're really lucky to have this talent in our area."

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