Elkins boys team heading to state tourney for fifth straight year
ELKINS — The Elkins High School boys cross country team did exactly what their coach asked of them — they didn’t quit — as they qualified for their fifth consecutive state meet Thursday, making the cut for the 13th time in 15 years.
The EHS cross country teams hosted the Region II AA/A Championships Thursday at the Davis & Elkins College Athletic Complex.
“I’m not going to lie, we had a real big ‘welcome to Coach Lewis meeting’ this week, and those guys took that to heart,” said coach Matt Lewis. “Sometimes you just need a little wake-up call to shock you, and when I handed that to those boys, and they responded remarkably.”
The Tigers shot out of the gate to put the rest of the field on their backs. Senior Mason Clark lead through the first mile before suffering a side stitch which caused him to fade.
“Mason ran a race that I expect out of a senior, with a ‘do or die’ attitude,” Lewis said. Clark finished fifth in 19:25 to earn First Team All Region honors.
Read Schumacher would step up big for the Tigers, nabbing the final individual qualifying spot, crossing the finish in 20:04 to finish 14th. Senior Jacob Lewis finished 23rd in 20:54, Adam Yokum 25th in 21:00, and James Smoak 28th in 21:16 to round out the Tigers’ score.
“That’s the best I’ve seen our front five run collectively all season,” said Lewis. “I asked, and expected a complete race, and they exceeded my own expectations.”
Antony Dong finished 54th in 24:45, while Kyle Murphy finished 64th in 26:53 for the Tigers.
“These guys top to bottom deserve every bit of praise coming their way for their determination this afternoon,” Lewis said.
Mark Duez of Bridgeport was the individual champion in 18:38, while Bridgeport also claimed the team title with 48 points.
Also qualifying for the state meet were runner-up Doddridge with 84, Elkins at 91, and Robert C Byrd at 91. Tucker County came in fifth with 121 points, followed by Braxton with 129, Lewis 151, Clay-Battelle 169, Liberty-Harrison 242, and Notre Dame 279.
Sophomore Lexie Morici was the lone qualifier for the Lady Tigers, finishing in the fifth spot, in 22:42, to stamp her ticket to the Championships.
“Lexie was consistent from start to finish,” Lewis said. “Lexie’s got such upward mobility, and I really just want her to unleash how talented she truly is next weekend at the state meet.”
Senior Taylor Maynard finished 14th in 24:36, Addie Berdine 18th in 25:00, and Kaeli Ricottilli 22nd in 25:46 for the Lady Tigers.
“We had four incredible girls out their today, and if we had a fifth runner, they’d be heading to Huntington as well,” Lewis said. “These girls came so far all season. My heart breaks for Taylor as a senior, but rest assured they’ll return even stronger next season.”
Desirae Schoonover of Doddridge took the individual title in 21:34, while Bridgeport earned the team title with 33 points.
Doddridge finished in the runner-up spot with 53 points and Robert C. Byrd with 77 would also qualify, while Lewis County would finish with 91, Liberty Harrison 117, and Tucker County 157.
The Tigers now advance to the West Virginia State Cross Country Championships next weekend at Cabell Midland High School. The girls will toe the line at 1 p.m., with the boys to finish up the Championships at 1:45 p.m.
“I’m so excited to be moving on yet again, and I know our kids are incredible excited,” Lewis said. “I can’t thank our athletes, parents, families, friends and community enough for all their continued support.”