HAGERSTOWN — It was 70 degrees and sunny Saturday in Hobbs, N.M., where the Hagerstown Community College men’s cross country team is headed next.
The Hawks earned the trip to New Mexico for the NJCAA Division I championships Nov. 12 by winning their seventh straight Region XX title Saturday in wintry conditions at Washington County Regional Park.
The Hawks plowed through the snow, edging Harford 26-33 for the region crown. The race also served as the Maryland JuCo Conference championships, and HCC captured that title as well, holding off runner-up Howard 32-52.
“They were great today,” HCC coach Brian Ferrari said. “They just acted like runners and ran. They didn’t let the conditions bother them.”
Mike Salguero led the Hawks on the 8-kilometer course, placing second overall in 28:58.
“You can’t control the weather, but you can control how you respond to it. Everyone had to face the same thing,” Salguero said. “We were just thinking, ‘New Mexico.’ It’s cold now, but it will be warm in two weeks. We just had to suffer through it.”
Harford’s Tyler Muse pulled away from Salguero in the final 600 meters to win the race in 28:45.
“I definitely wanted to win it,” Salguero said. “I’m not happy with myself for letting him take off. But I’m happy with how the team performed.”
Also for HCC, Brandon Horning finished sixth (29:38), William Atchison was seventh (29:39), Andrew Dunn was 10th (30:40) and Tyler Smith was 11th (30:47) to complete the Hawks’ scoring in the field of 43 runners.
“It was slippery,” Horning said. “I tripped over a rock and fell and turned my ankle twice.”
Horning also overcame a wrong turn late in the race, as he went from leading the front pack to trailing it.
“I was scared,” he said. “I thought if we didn’t win it, it was going to be my fault.”
The women’s 5-kilometer race was won by CCAC North’s Jannelle Baldwin in 22:07.
HCC only had two women competing, but both finished in the top 10. Whitney Murphy was seventh (24:52) and Paige Goebelbecker was eighth (25:48).
After the award ceremony Saturday, Ferrari planned to break the news to his runners that this would be his final season with the Hawks. He is stepping down after five years as HCC’s cross country and track coach. He said he just needs some “free time” in his life.
“It’s been great, and these kids are really a tough group to walk away from,” Ferrari said. “They’re just good kids, very coachable, they do everything we ask. It’s a really hard thing to leave because I love doing it. But it’s just time.”
He will be replaced by Nick Snyder, who has been the head boys cross country coach at Governor Thomas Johnson High School in Frederick, Md., since 2005 and its head boys track and field coach since 2007. Snyder guided the Patriots to five Maryland Class 4A state team titles in track — three outdoors and two indoors.