Local Sports, Morgantown, Preston, Sports, University

University boys, Morgantown girls’ claim Class AAA Region I cross-country championships

KINGWOOD — After yet another dominant season, the Morgantown girls’ and University boys’ teams won the Class AAA Region I cross-country championships, respectively, on Thursday at Preston.

The boys’ race was dominated by UHS, as the Hawks took the top four positions individually, with Josh Edwards finishing in first place with a time of 16:24. Behind Edwards were Rocco DeVincent (16:36), Ryan Blohm (16:42) and Drew Zundell (16:42).

Following UHS was Wheeling Park in second and Morgantown in third, qualifying the three teams for the state meet, set for Oct. 30 at Cabell Midland in Ona.

For the Mohigans, their top finisher was Landon Young, finishing in eighth (17:00).

With all but one of Morgantown’s girls finishing within the top 10, the Mohigans came in first place in the region, with the Hawks finishing second and Buckhannon-Upshur finishing in third. The top three schools also qualified for the next week’s state meet.

MHS junior Irene Riggs finished in first place with a time of 18:40, but was not too pleased with her performance.

“I didn’t go in with the best mindset and I think it definitely affected my race, but still guaranteed our team going to states next week and that is where it counts,” she said. “It is what it is and you just have to move on.”

Lea Hatcher finished third (19:31), followed by teammates (Sophie Renner (20:03) and Jennifer Opalko (20:07). The top finishing Hawk was Adelyn Tager in sixth (20:22).

MHS coach Mike Ryan was confident in his team and talked of giving them the needed rest as they get closer to the end of the season.

“In this part of the season, a lot of the big work has been done, it’s nothing special about what we do, it’s about letting their legs get underneath them and letting them mentally ready to come out here and run fast while dealing with the competition,” he said.

Moving forward, Ryan does not plan on changing his approach and is giving his team more than just running advice.

“We’re talking about diet, we’re talking about getting sleep at night and coming out to get some runs in,” he said. “We’ll do some faster strides to get ready for some turnover and mentally prepare to come out because in a race for the state championship there’s always that pressure on a lot of these kids.”

The Preston girls’ team came up short and missed team qualification by one place, but had injury issues coming into the regional meet.

“We’re extremely bummed,” head coach Paul Martin said. “We had one of our last practices this week and only had three of our seven girls actually able to run. At this time of year, you want to be running perfectly and we definitely weren’t. We were trying to duct tape things together and we came up short.”

Although the team did not qualify, Allie Martin, Paul’s daughter, finished second overall (19:17), securing a spot in the state meet.

“We talked about how it’s her last two trips around [this course] and this is her home course so make the best of it,” coach Martin said. “To finish second in this region with the likes of Morgantown and University and so many great runners, some of which are among the best in the nation, that’s a testament to her work ethic and where she’s at right now.

“Unfortunately, we’re in by far the toughest region in the state and he came up one sport short. It’s bittersweet today. I’m excited for Allie but I wish her teammates were going to be with her at states.”

TWEET @dompostsports