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Morgantown, University look to continue cross-country dominance at state meet

MORGANTOWN — The University boys and Morgantown girls both look to claim their third-straight Class AAA state cross-country titles this weekend.

Coming into the boys race as favorites, the Hawks are not only expected to win, but do so in dominating fashion with senior Josh Edwards out front.

“We’re just looking to have everybody as healthy as we can have them and have everyone in a good attitude. You hope everyone runs their best race of the season,” UHS head coach Ed Frohnapfel said. “Hopefully, I’ve got everyone in shape to run their best, although it’s supposed to start raining Friday so it will be a muddy course and the times won’t be fast.”

Frohnapfel will be attending his 16th state meet this season and has already claimed 13 cross-country titles across boys and girls.

“That’s something we’ve become used to. The girls had a streak of five championships in a row and the boys now are going for three in a row. I don’t think there’s any more pressure going for your third one than it is going for your first one,” he said.

The UHS girls’ team is predicted to finish in third place by runwv.com, but Frohnapfel thinks they can place higher and knows they are going to have to put on their best performance. Adelyn Tager is the Hawks’ highest-predicted finisher.

The Morgantown girls are also expected to dominate behind the likes of Irene Riggs and Lea Hatcher. It feels almost a shoe-in for Riggs, who is in her junior year, and finished on top of the podium all season with no runner in the state coming within 30 seconds of her. Riggs’ closest competitor this season has been Preston’s Allie Martin, who qualified as an individual runner last week by finishing in second at last week’s Class AAA Region I meet and is expected to do the same this weekend.

MHS coach Mike Ryan is not scared of the pressure a three-peat might put on his team and embraces the thought of the entire field looking to knock his team off the top.

“I think that’s always there, but I try to get them to think more internally about what they need to do and what they can do and not so much on what others are doing,” he said “I tell them it’s an honor to have a target on their back, it means everybody is trying to get to where you are.”

The Morgantown boys are predicted to finish sixth, with Landon Young being the highest finisher.

Ryan has also been watching the weather for this weekend and has no concern for the potential rain and colder temperatures.

“I don’t really think of it as unsettling, I personally prefer it because I know other teams will be unsettled when it’s not a perfect day. We’ll bring some extra clothes and make sure we warm up but we’ll be ready to run,” he said.

For the Class A meet, Trinity won its boys’ regional and will be sending its first-ever team to the state meet. The Cinderella story is one of a team with only one runner last season, adding six runners who had never run in a high school-level race. Senior Peyton Dixon, who was the school’s first boy individual runner to qualify for the state meet, has run without a team throughout his high school career. This season he was accompanied by fellow senior Jabez Chavez, who has not competitively run cross-country since 6th grade, and five freshmen.

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