Hagerstown Community College will have three athletes competing this weekend at the NJCAA Division I Track & Field Championships in Hutchinson, Kan. And sophomore Brandon Mauck and freshmen Paige Shirk and Mike Salguero hope they’ve peaked at the right time.
“I think all three are going to be at their very best this weekend,” HCC coach Brian Ferrari said. “It’s all been going the way it should be.”
Shirk will compete in the women’s shot put Friday and discus Saturday, and Mauck and Salguero are both set to race in the men’s 5,000-meter run Saturday.
The top six U.S. citizens in each event earn Coaches’ All-American honors. While that’s a major goal for the three Hawks, they’re mostly concerned about turning in personal-best performances.
Shirk — who graduated from Clear Spring last year as an eight-time Maryland Class 1A state champ — is ranked eighth in the shot put at 43 feet, 7 1/4 inches and 14th in the discus at 132-4.
“I just want to set personal records in both. They’re both very attainable goals,” Shirk said. “And if I place well, that’s great too.”
She finished ninth in the shot put with a throw of 40-6 1/4 at the NJCAA indoor championships in March, just missing All-American status. But now she has that big-meet experience on her side.
“It’s uptight because it’s nationals, and everyone wants to win,” Shirk said. “But I’m relaxed. I just try to treat it like practice.”
That might be a good thing.
“If she goes out there and just has another day like she’s been having at practice, she’s going to be an All-American,” HCC throws coach Matt Peters said.
For Mauck, a South Hagerstown graduate, it will be his first national track meet — and last race as a Hawk. He is ranked 23rd in the 5,000 at 15:30.16, behind several foreign runners.
“I want to get at least 15:20,” Mauck said. “This is the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I want to go out with a bang. ... It would be pretty cool to be All-American, but I’m just focused on the clock. I’m just looking at times.”
There’s nowhere to go but up for Salguero, who’s ranked 42nd in the 5,000 with his personal-best time of 15:47.59.
“I want to break 15:30 at the very least,” said Salguero, who’s from Ebensburg, Pa. “As for placing, I’m just going to compete and get what I can get. It will be a good experience, that’s for sure.”