RIPLEY — Cabell Midland used its depth and a consistent performance throughout both its boys and girls teams to sweep the Mountain State Athletic Conference cross country championships Wednesday at Cedar Lakes Resort.
The Knights placed five runners in the top 15 of both races to edge Parkersburg.
“I’m really proud of the way they ran today. We’re getting down to the end of the season and we’ve been talking about coming together and running our best races at the end of the year,” Cabell Midland coach Chris Parsons said. “You always want to peak around now, so this was a solid win for us against some of the top teams in the state.”
Despite coming up short for the team title, Parkersburg had a great showing on the girls side, finishing with the top three runners. Big Reds sophomore Olivia Collett won the race for the second year in a row with a time of 19:32.68.
She was followed by freshmen Madison Trippett and Ellie Dario, who finished with times of 20:07.78 and 20:25.46, respectively.
“I was glad to see those three come in and finish so strong, they’re all so young and this was a really good showing,” Parkersburg coach Larry Games said. “Olivia, especially, really liked this course and was focused on coming out and doing this. When she sets her mind on something, she usually finds a way to get the job done.”
On the boys side, George Washington’s Jacob Birurakis crossed the finish line in first place as he completed the race in 16:44.46
Birurakis was able to beat out a pair of Cabell Midland runners, Austin Jordan and Coy Smith, who tried to cut the deficit heading down the home stretch but weren’t able to finish the comeback. For Birurakis, who finished 11th in the conference championship last season, it was a great feeling to be able to pick up the win against a talented group of runners like the ones he went up against.
“It was a really good win, I felt great the whole race,” Birurakis said. “They started pushing me at the end, but I just dug deep and tried to put together a strong finish and I’m really excited that I was able to get it done.”
The race provided the teams with a solid tune-up as they prepare to get into the postseason — giving them a big race against plenty of quality competition to set the bar and show where they stand as they prepare for regionals and states.
“There are so many good runners around, it really gets you ready for the next couple weeks,” Birurakis said. “It’s a good thing looking forward to regionals and stuff like that because a lot of the runners and a lot of the teams in this conference are probably among the best in the state.”
The course provided plenty of challenges, giving runners stretches of flat land as well as several hills and plenty of turns to navigate on a wooded trail, while still being very runner-friendly.
“It’s a good course. When you’re in a race like this that is close to regionals and states, you want a course that will challenge the kids while also not being super, super tough and take a ton out of you,” Parsons said. “It’s got some nice hills and woods in it and I thought both our boys and girls did a really good job of running it.
“You have to have depth to win in this sport, and today we used ours to have some really nice runs.”
George Washington’s Olivia Ward finished in fourth in the girls race, finishing in 20:51.47, while the Cabell Midland trio of Gretchen Mills, Jessica Salmons and Anya Miller were No. 5, 6 and 7, respectively. Huntington’s Winnie Mayes, Woodrow Wilson’s Faith Tharp and Hurricane’s Alexis Imperial rounded out the top 10 for the girls.
On the boys side, Ian Domenick was Parkersburg’s top finisher in fourth place. The Big Reds ended up with two runners in the top 10 and four in the top 20.
Capital’s Samual Thomas crossed the finish line in 17:08.34 to claim a top-five finish. Miles Kominsky of Woodrow Wilson came in sixth, while Brian Middaugh of Hurricane, Cabell Midland’s Jackson Gibson, Parkersburg’s Scott Barker and Brett Armbruster of Cabell Midland also finished in the top 10.
Contact Michael Carvelli at 304-348-4810 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@carvelli3.