The meet of the year that mattered most took place at Doddridge County, in the rain, on Oct. 18 as West Virginia Region I Class A/AA cross country teams gathered to vie for placement at the State meet next weekend. Tyler Consolidated and Paden City High School athletes were among the participants, the majority of them turning in their best times of the year.
The Silver Knights had three boys and nine girls competing at the meet, while one boy and two girls participated for the Wildcats.
Knight junior, Dylan Reynolds, was the lone qualifier for state, finishing ninth overall in the boys division with a time of 18:32.95.
Junior, Ryan Dalrymple, turned in a good time to finish 44th in 20:06.78; and freshman Ty Pratt placed 92nd overall in 32:51.68.
"We had a great race," said head coach of the Silver Knight harriers, Luke Reynolds. "Dylan performed very strong, as we've come to expect, even after playing a sectional soccer game the night before and enduring the rainstorm that was on us."
"Ryan had his best race of the year, besting his time at this venue by 57 seconds, and Ty Pratt finished off strong this year, and has definitely showed improvement, even in the short time that he has been with the team."
Paden City sophomore, Dean Pratt, finished the race in 20:08.47 in 45th position.
Ten complete teams competed in the boys division with the team from Fairmont Senior taking first place, followed by host Doddridge County and St. Marys.
In the girls division, freshman Amber Watson crossed the finish line first for the Lady Knights in 14th place overall with a time of 23:05.14. Sophore Marisa Gogan, finished in the 51st slot with a time of 25:24.11; Kelly Rice, junior, placed 63rd, in 26.48.69; Hannah Phillips, junior, in 28:59.52, 76th place; Becky Bolin, freshman, 85th, in 29:45.59; Laura Jochum, sophomore, 88th, in 30:49.16; Stephanie Wright, sophomore, 91st, in 32:34.63; Damara Winfrey, freshman, 93rd, in 36:06.61; and Kellsi Anderson, freshman, placed 94th with a time of 37:25.93.
"Some of our girls put in their best performances of the year, even with slippery course conditions," Reynolds said. "Amber Watson was 28 seconds short of qualifying for states in the toughest region in the state. This has been a breakout year for this girl."
"Marisa Gogan put in an effort that bested her time from last week, in the LKC race, by 1:08. That shows what she is capable of, when the pressure is on. The next two girls have had a lot of issues in their personal life that could have hurt if not ended their seasons, but Kelly Rice and Hannah Phillips have been solid performers all year despite their trouble, and have shown they have the strength to succeed in anything they try."
"Becky Bolin did nothing less than improve her position throughout the entire race, and Laura Jochum paced herself to eclipse her previous time by a huge 1:52. Stephanie Wright is, quite possibly, the most improved runner on the high school team this year. She has improved her time on every meet, from her previous year, by minutes not seconds and as much as 5:54 at Cameron. Damara Winfrey and Kellsi Anderson both improved on their times from the LKC meet and keep showing good progress."
The Lady Knight team finished 12th overall of the 13 complete teams participating. Williamstown High School finished in the first slot, followed by St. Marys and North Marion.
Paden City competitors, Kayla Hizer and Mallory Estel also turned in a good effort at the meet with both sophomores finishing in the top 50. Hizer placed 39th with a time of 24:44.51 and Estel turned in a time of 24:54.25 to place 41st.
In the first year of the cross country program at Paden City, head coach Kim Huffman is very pleased with her athletes efforts and commitment to the sport throughout the year.
"All in all, this year has been a pleasure from a coaching standpoint," Reynolds said of Tyler Consolidated's cross country program. "Individual and team goals were set and achieved. We ran through heat, cold, dry, rain, adversity, and injuries. Never once was I disappointed at the effort put out by these kids when they were on the race course. I am seeing improvement in each athlete, in the team that they have built together, and in the personal maturation of each one of these kids."
"While this season is over for many of these athletes, they are already planning what off-season conditioning workouts we can all get together on. It's a long time until August 5 2013, but I already can't wait."