“It was a dominating performance in front of the home crowd,” said Nick Snyder, who’s in his first season as the Hawks’ cross country coach. “This was our only chance to run at home this season. We wanted to put on a quality meet and run well.”
Winning the region titles also qualified both Hagerstown teams for the national championship meet on Nov. 10 in Ina, Ill.
While it was the eighth straight region title for the Hagerstown men, it was the first since 1999 for the women.
“Last year, (Hagerstown) only had two girls run at this meet. The goal this year was to have a complete team,” Snyder said. “They’ve come a long way since we started in August. They’ve become runners in the last 12 weeks.”
The women raced 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) while the men raced 8 kilometers (4.97 miles). At the conclusion of each race, results were divided for Maryland JuCo Conference, Region XX Division 1 and Region XX Division 3.
The Hagerstown women scored a perfect 15 points in their two sets of results. Anne Arundel was second (54) and Howard was third (59) in the JuCo standings, while the Hawks had the only complete team in the Division 1 region results.
The Hagerstown men easily got by Howard 19-44 for the conference title, while Garrett was third (80). The Hawks also had the only complete Division 1 men’s team in the region.
“We didn’t just want to win,” Snyder said. “We wanted to run good times and really earn the berths to nationals.”
Hagerstown freshman Casey Barr ran the race of her life to take the overall women’s victory in 20:38. Teammates Paige Goebelbecker (21:43) and Rachel Lilley (21:47) took second and third, while Kelsey Weaver was fifth (22:41) and Renee Barnes was seventh (23:15) overall for the Hawks.
“I’d never won any cross country races ever. This is the first time I’ve ever won something,” said Barr, who led from start to finish Saturday. “I had a lot of nerves before the race, but at the starting line I calmed down and told myself I could do it, and I went out and did it.”
While Barr was a decent runner at Tuscarora High School in Frederick, Md., she has come into her own at Hagerstown.
“I really like it here,” she said. “I’ve really improved since I came.”
The men’s 8K race had a thrilling finish. In maybe the only thing that didn’t go the Hawks’ way Saturday, Harford’s Tyler Muse outkicked Hagerstown’s Brandon Horning for the overall victory in 26:34.
“I knew the whole time it was going to come down to a kick,” said Horning, the former South Hagerstown High School standout, after finishing second in 26:36. “Going into the last (mile), I thought I was going to win. I thought I had it. But today he just had a better kick than me.”
The Hagerstown men took seven of the top nine spots overall, as Stephen Starliper (27:35), Greg Rinehart (27:42), Andy Drum (27:47), Kenton Grossnickle (27:49), William Atchison (27:50) and Ryan Kaiser (28:23) swept places 4 through 9.