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Elkins High harriers look to continue state streaks

Submitted photo Members of the Elkins High School boys and girls cross country team include front row, from left to right, coach Matt Lewis, Charlie Smoak, Tyler McKisick, Jasper Clark, Austin Whetsell, Antony Dong, Tyler Chewning, Elijah Jones, Benny Auvil, Luke Anger, Henry Fry, Hunter Shreve, Brandon Rossi, Braxton Kenney and coach Melissa Carr. Back row, Kiley Edwards, Sammi Sproul, Kaia Miller, Kaleigh Edwards, Addie Berdine, Natalie Sutton and Holly Harper.

ELKINS — After qualifying for the West Virginia State Cross Country Championships for the 14th time in the past 17 attempts, the Elkins High boys cross country team looks to pick up where they left off last season.

As they are riding six consecutive trips to the state meet, the Tigers have, once again, made it a goal to keep their streak alive and make a return trip to Cabell Midland in November.

“It’s a great feeling after 15 years of coaching when on day one the guys are already talking, when we get to states and not if we get to states,” said veteran coach Matt Lewis. “We’ve got plenty of talent to certainly achieve that goal and keep the tradition of EHS cross country going strong.”

Leading the charge for the Tigers this season will be sophomores Luke Anger and Charlie Smoak. Both Anger and Smoak competed in last year’s state meet as freshmen.

Seniors competing for the Tigers are Tyler Chewning, Antony Dong and Elijah Jones, alongside juniors Jasper Clark, Henry Fry and Austin Whetsell — all returners from last year’s team.

In addition to Anger and Smoak, fellow sophomores Tyler McKisick, Hunter Shreve, Brandon Rossi and Braxton Kenney will compete, and freshman Benny Auvil rounds out the roster.

“The guys have been working extremely hard and I’m anxious just to see where we are as a team come Saturday, even though I know we still have work to do,” Lewis said. “We’re certainly a young team, but all the right pieces are there, including experience.”

The EHS girls will also look to make a return trip to states. The Lady Tigers have qualified three out of the past four years for the championships.

“It’s interesting, the girls were just like our boys, and they’re hungry to get back to the state meet,” Lewis said.

Junior Addie Berdine will lead the charge for the Lady Tigers this season. Berdine will have a lot of help at the front from a talented group of sophomores in Kaleigh Edwards, Natalie Sutton, Kaia Miller and Holly Harper as all four sophomores ran in last year’s state meet as freshman.

Joining the squad this year are also freshman Kiley Edwards and Sammi Sproul.

“We have a few girls ineligible right now due to number of practices and we are nursing a couple light injuries, but this group’s effort in training is excellent,” said coach Melissa Carr. “They are fully committed to return to the state meet, and there is no doubt in my mind –with the experience they gained last year — that they will be able to achieve that goal.”

The Tigers will get their season underway early this morning as they compete in the Autumn Classic Invitational at St. Marys. The girls are scheduled to run at 9 a.m. with the boys to follow at 9:45 a.m.

Elkins will host the annual Forest Festival Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 9 a.m., along with playing host to the Class AA-A, Region II Championships on Thursday, Oct. 24, at 1 p.m.

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