BATTLING THE ELEMENTS

Bridgeport girls, Fairmont Senior boys take titles

Elkins senior James Smoak, left, and a Fairmont Senior runner battle for position at the Big 10 Conference championships.

ELKINS –With a downpour right before the start of the Big 10 Conference Championship girls’ cross country race on Thursday morning, Elkins coach Matt Lewis’ job description changed as quickly as the rain dropped to the ground.

A light drizzle during the boys’ portion of the meet had already created a slippery surface on the challenging Davis & Elkins College course.

The girls, however, faced more than muddy conditions as a flash flood in the creek located on the course forced Lewis into another role.

“When I’m standing waist deep in a creek acting as a lifeguard, you know it’s bad,” Lewis said. “But those girls rocked the most harsh conditions I’ve seen in a long time.”

A determined field of young women not only overcame the elements, but performed at a high level with a conference title on the line.

In the end, Bridgeport took team honors, followed by Preston, Fairmont Senior, East Fairmont, Elkins, Grafton, North Marion, Liberty, Robert C. Byrd, Lewis County and Buckhannon Upshur.

Lexie Morici led the Lady Tigers with a ninth-place finish in a time of 24.56 to garner all-conference honors.

Teammates Addie Berdine and Natalie Sutton both earned all-conference second-team laurels by finishing 17th and 20th, respectively, with times of 25:42 and 26:02.

Kaia Miller placed 33rd in 27:10 for the EHS girls, followed by Kaleigh Edwards in 47th (28:23), Kaeli Ricottilli 49th (28:31), Holly Harper 50th (28:39) and Hannah Phillips 59th (29:49).

“I can’t believe how these girls survived these conditions,” EHS coach Melissa Carr added. “I knew when this downpour hit and I saw (Coach) Lewis in the creek the conditions were bad, and our girls just persevered in (those conditions).”

Lewis and Carr also were pleased with the performance of the EHS boys, who placed seventh with 198 points.

“We ran well despite the conditions,” Lewis said. “Our strongest seven move on (to regionals), and I like where we are at right now.

“Our seniors really showed up today.”

Freshman Luke Anger was the first Tiger to cross the finish line in 26th-place with a time of 21:01.

A pair of seniors — Read Schumacher and James Smoak — were the next EHS finishers in 38th (21:31) and 44th (21:53), respectively.

Charlie Smoak was 48th (22:03), Brennon Weese 50th (22:14), Matthew Gainer 67th (23:01), Chris Fry 74th (23:28), Nathan Cooper 76th (23:29), Austin Whetsell 77th (23:29), Braxton Kenney 79th (23:33), Tyler McKisick 85th (23:54), Hunter Shreve 93rd (24:18), Brandon Rossi 94th (24:24), Noah Carr 106th (25:06), Tyler Chewning 108th (25:14), Antony Dong 109th (25:15), Jasper Clark 125th (27:14), Travis Jones 132nd (28:33) and Anson Simms 136th (30:30).

Fairmont Senior took the team title with 52 points, followed by Bridgeport (67), Preston (82), Philip Barbour (96), East Fairmont (119), B-U (191), Elkins (198), North Marion (205), Lewis County (234), RCB (255), Grafton (268) and Liberty (367).

Lincoln fielded an incomplete team and a total of 146 runners competed in the boys’ race.

Additional race results were unavailable at press time.

Elkins will now prepare for the Class AA-A, Region II meet scheduled for Thursday at Doddridge County. The boys will race at 4:30 p.m., followed by the girls at 5:15 p.m.

B-U and Philip Barbour will also be in regional action on Thursday. The Bucs will compete at Brooke High School and the Colts at St. Marys High School.

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