TENNERTON - Philip Barbour began defense of its Class AA cross country championship Saturday morning, rolling to an impressive sweep at the season-opening Bobcat Kickoff Classic held at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. Coming off a sweep at last year's state meet, the Colts sent an early message that the 2012 unit of Coach Melissa Kaiser should again be a contender at the state level.
"We are excited to be back into the season. The girls and boys are both running and feeling strong," Kaiser said. "It is good to be back and have last year's victories under our belt. We are just working to keep people focused on the goal at hand."
Brianna Waybright led the Colt ladies, navigating the hilly course in a time of 22:14. The senior all-stater was followed by Marissa Long in second (22:35) and Katie Mahoney in third (23:15) completing a one-two-three finish individually. Allison Villers came in fifth (24:15), with Haley Truman adding an eighth place (28:12) to round out the Colts in the top ten.
Philip Barbour’s Brianna Waybright looks to cross the finish line Saturday at the Bobcat Invitational in Tennertion.
Buckhannon-Upshur also placed five girls in the top 10, falling to Philip Barbour 19-36 in the team tally. Laura Dean led the Buc pack placing fourth in 24:12. She was followed on the stand by teammates Reba Cutright in sixth (27:26), Casey Thorpe seventh (28:05), Megan Russell ninth (28:19) and Lizzy Floyd 10th (28:27).
Junior Scott Nesland led a strong Colt contingent that placed six runners in the top 10. His 19:27 race over the 5,000-meter layout was complemented by Trey Furby in second (19:44), Dustin Williams in third (20:37), Tyler Baldwin fourth (21:00), Trevor Matko fifth (21:12) and Andrew Phillips eighth (21:32). The Colts' perfect 15-point performance, the equivalent of a cross country shutout, was followed by the Wyoming East Warriors from the Coalfield Conference, who placed second with 58 points. The Warriors of coach Aaron England are only in their third year of the program, and placed two runners in the top 10 - Michael Hayworth in seventh and Joseph Cornett in ninth.
"We drove three hours to get here, but we were able to face some good competition on a very tough course," England said. "These kids are working hard, and we think we will be a team watch for in October."
Wyoming East will be hosting a meet at Twin Falls State Park on Oct. 4, and it is in a region that appears to be wide open in the southern part of the state this fall.
Buckhannon-Upshur's boys had some solid runs, but came up four points shy of the runner-up spot. Kirk Russell was the top Buc runner, placing sixth in 21:17, while Chad Christensen checked in at tenth in 21:53 in what proved to be a tighter front pack in the boys' overall race, all teams included. With the sun out, there was a considerable spike in the temperature in the hour between the middle school and high school races.
"We ran pretty good, but the heat really took effect on us and we lost our top girl in that race after the first mile," Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Jim Johnson said. "We are not yet where we want to be as a team, but once everyone is, we feel that we will be very competitive."