ONA -- University scored a Class AAA sweep in the West Virginia High School Cross Country Championships contested in rain and cold Saturday at Cabell Midland that created trying course conditions for competitors.
In the boys race, the Hawks had four runners place in the top 10 and totaled 44 points to repeat as champion. Seth Edwards led the charge, winning in 16:15. Cabell Midland, which alternated at No. 1 with the Hawks during regular-season rankings, placed second with 76.
"We had a good race today," Knights coach Chris Parsons said. "They were the better team today. It's that simple. When you put four in the top 10, it's hard to beat a team like that."
The girls had a similar pre-race script as University and Hurricane each spent time at No. 1 in team rankings during the regular season. However, it was all Hawks on race day as they prevailed with 54 points to 60 for runner-up Morgantown, which had its championship win streak end at three. Hampshire was third and Hurricane fourth.
For University's boys, Alex Minor placed fifth, Tristan Harvey sixth and freshman Philip White came up big in 10th. Jacob Hough had the fifth spot at No. 22.
"We knew we'd really have to pull through if were going to get past Cabell Midland today," Edwards said. "Me and all the other boys on the team worked extremely hard. University thrives on this (winning). We came in as an underdog, but we knew this team was better than last year. Cabell Midland was a lot better than last year, too. We knew it would be close. Everybody brought their A game this time."
The top 10 runners in each class made all-state. After the Class AA/A morning session and Class AAA afternoon races, awards ceremonies took place in the Cabell Midland gym.
Senior Brandon Atkinson placed 12th to lead Cabell Midland, two spots from being on the podium.
"The better guys beat me today," Atkinson said. "University ran a great race."
University's girls didn't learn they'd won until the awards ceremony.
"You're kidding. Oh my God," University's Tashala Turner said when she got the good news. "I'm so proud of everyone."
Turner was fourth, teammate Sara Wills fifth and Peyton Kukura got 10th to give the Hawks three on the podium.
"We have a really young team. A lot of the girls hadn't raced here before," Turner said. "They stepped it up and ran their hearts out. They deserve this."
"I tried to stay with her and do my best," said Wills, who was competing in her first state meet. "Our coach said whoever goes out there and gives it their all wins this race."
Jefferson's Abby Colbert went to the front at the outset and won in 18:23. Capital's Peyton Panger placed second.
"It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and a lot neater than I expected," Colbert said. "We checked the course Friday to know where to make our moves. Getting out front early helped. I stayed clear of the traffic."Panger made game efforts each year to win, but came up short."There's still a lot of positive," said Panger, who's going to run in college at West Virginia. "I have a lot more left ahead of me."Hurricane coach Jason Henley knew it would take a big effort to top University. Joie Johnston, who missed the Region IV meet with a sore knee, ran Saturday, but had troubles."We had to run the race of our life," Henley said. "We had some tough spots on the course, but it was the same for everybody. How you responded to that made the difference. The girls did great. I can't ask for anything more."In Class AA-A, Berkeley Springs won the girls title with 37 points. Philip Barbour was second with 72, ending a three-year title run for the Colts.
Grafton's Alicia Parsons won the individual title in 20:49.
On the boys side, Bridgeport totaled 63 points to make it two straight championships. Webster County was second with 119, but the Highlanders had the individual champion in Brettley Harris (16:30).
Source: Herald Dispatch