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HCC out for bigger, better things

November 13, 2009|By ANDREW MASON

As a freshman last fall, Hagerstown Community College's Corey Centofonti missed earning Coaches' All-American honors by three places at the NJCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Spartansburg, S.C.

"Three places and 5 seconds," he said, to be exact. "It still bugs me."

Centofonti, the former Smithsburg High School star, will be looking for some redemption Saturday when he and the Hawks compete in the national meet in Peoria, Ill. He enters as the two-time Region XX champ.

At nationals last year, Centofonti placed 49th on the 8-kilometer course in 26 minutes, 42 seconds -- still his personal-best time for the distance -- while leading the Hawks to a 17th-place finish out of 33 teams. The top 25 U.S. citizens in the race earn Coaches' All-American honors.

Centofonti hopes to go out in a blaze of glory in his final cross country race as a Hawk on Saturday. The distance again will be 8K.

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"My whole goal this year has been to break 26 minutes," he said. "And as a team, we're trying to go top 10. Looking at times from other regions, it could happen. This is a good team we have here."

While the HCC men are ranked 15th in NJCAA Division I, coach Brian Ferrari admitted that he has no idea how his Hawks will stack up against Saturday's field.

"We have not seen one team this season that will be there. So who knows?" he said. "We really want to improve on last year's finish, but we just don't know what everybody has."

What Ferrari has is a team laden with homegrown talent. Five of the seven HCC runners who will compete Saturday graduated from Washington County high schools -- Wade Miller (Clear Spring), Brandon Mauck (South Hagerstown), Nathanial Clark (Williamsport), Rio Ferrario (Williamsport) and Centofonti (Smithsburg).

"Washington County has always put out good distance runners," Centofonti said. "It's nice to be a part of it, and there's going to be more coming."

HCC's other two runners are Jeremiah Wilt and D.J. Watson. Wilt, a former Pennsylvania high school standout, finished second to Centofonti at this year's region meet, as the Hawks successfully defended their team title.

"They're all great kids, and they're really into it," Ferrari said. "They've bought into it, and they want to do well."

"It's like we're all brothers," Miller said. "We're always hanging out and having a good time."

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