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Cabell Midland-hosted cross country festival sees upsets, course records

September 3, 2018 GMT

ONA — Cabell Midland took the boys and girls overall team events, but the top AAA girls runner and defending class A-AA boys state champions saw rare defeats Saturday at the St. Mary’s Medical Center XC Festival hosted by the Knights.

Cabell Midland’s boys squad of Steven Ball, Sam LeRose, Brett Armbruster, Cooper Gibson, Will Turman and Jackson Gibson took four of the top 10 spots in the Class AAA boys competition to record 41 points to take first place overall. Hurricane took second with two top-10 finishes including a second-place finish from Wyatt Hanshaw, who turned in a mark of 16:36 - 10 seconds behind first place Ronnie Saunders of Wheeling Park.

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Cabell Midland’s top finisher was Ball, who entered Saturday ranked No. 16 in the state by runWV.com, a website that tracks statewide prep meets in both cross country as well as track and field.

Ball finished fourth overall with a time of 16:40, narrowly missing out to Hanshaw and third-place finisher Jackson Core of Morgantown High.

“I was not expecting it at all,” Ball, a senior, said of his finish. “I was very pleasantly surprised with how I placed and pleasantly surprised with my time as well.”

Cabell Midland is ranked by runWV.com as the top Class AAA boys team in the state followed by No. 2 University, which did not participate in the meet Saturday. Hurricane is ranked third.

No. 7 Parkersburg finished third at the cross country festival, edging out No. 6 Wheeling Park.

Cabell Midland’s girls team, ranked No. 3 by runWV.com, was able to outrun No. 2-ranked Ripley, which finished Saturday in second place with 77 points.

The Knights squad of Anya Miller, Emma Jenkins, Gretchen Mills, Brynn Smith and Chloe Adkins landed two top-10 finishes and two more in the top 20 to record 58 points.

Ripley featured the No. 1-ranked girls runner in the state and defending girls Class AAA state champion, Tori Starcher, who set the Class AAA girls meet record in 2017 with a mark of 18:16. Starcher, returning from an injured hamstring suffered during track and field season, finished with a mark of 19:03 Saturday, putting her behind Parkersburg’s Madison Trippett, who won with a time of 18:22.

“I had to take a lot of time off this summer, so I didn’t get too much training,” Starcher said. “Right now I just wanted to kind of compete and do the best for my team. I’m not quite there yet, but we’ll see what happens from there.”

Winfield’s Aaron Withrow found himself in a similar situation as Starcher.

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Withrow, the defending Class A-AA boys champion, finished second Saturday to Keeton Thornsberry of Louisville’s Holy Cross High School. Thornsberry turned in a A-AA course record of 15:50 to take first place. Withrow finished at 16:27.

Thornsberry’s record broke the previous mark of 16:15 set by Withrow in 2016. Thornsberry’s time was just one second behind the Class AAA boys record of 15:49 set by Cabell Midland’s Jacob Burcham in 2010.

Holy Cross won the Class A-AA boys team award with 58 points. Julia Muller of Bridgeport won the girls Class A-AA race with a time of 19:48 but her team finished second to Williamstown, which scored 83 points to Bridgeport’s 111.

Nearly 200 schools were represented from middle school through high school with more than 1,900 runners participating in the festival.