On the right course

ELKINS – Austin Hamrick and Remington Knight have provided the Elkins cross country team with senior leadership this season.

Their veteran presence, along with junior Matt Wallace, have guided a young group of Tiger runners into Saturday’s Class AAA state meet at Cabell Midland High School.

Hamrick will be running in his fourth and final state meet. He has been the most consistent performer for Elkins, placing in the top five in each race this fall.

“I’m honored and blessed to make it back to the state meet,” Hamrick said. “My teammates and I have trained and worked hard for this moment, and our coaches have got us ready.”

Hamrick puts team goals first but added a top 10 finish on Saturday would be a great way to end his career.

“To achieve all-state honors my senior year would be awesome,” he said. “But it will be a tough task against the best runners in the state.”

Knight, who will be participating in his third state meet, is glad the entire team will be competing after Elkins fell short in regional competition in 2012.

“It’s great to take a young team to states, especially after a disappointing end to last season,” Knight said. “Hopefully we are able to run to our potential, have another great race and finish in the top five as a team.

“This is what are coaches prepared us for and we’re up to the challenge.”

Wallace, along with Hamrick, are projected to finish in the top 10 on Saturday. This will be Wallace’s second state meet.

The remainder of the Elkins squad is comprised of four freshmen – Dalton Hamrick, the younger brother of Austin, Ben Huffman, Brendan Wallace and Will Gongola.

The Tigers, coached by Shellie Burda and Matt Lewis, were runner-ups at both the Big 10 and regional meets.

The remainder of the Class AAA field includes Cabell Midland, Capital, George Washington, Hampshire, Hurricane, Jefferson, Morgantown, Musselman, Parkersburg, Ripley, University and Winfield.

University, which is ranked No. 1 in the state, and defending champion Cabell Midland are the favorites to win the team title.

Saturday’s action will begin with the girls’ Class AAA race at 10 a.m., followed by the boys at 10:45 a.m.

The Class AA-A girls’ meet is slated for 1 p.m. and the boys at 1:45 p.m.