PARKERSBURG -In terms of high school cross country, the Battle of Parkersburg will stage its farewell tour all in one evening when Parkersburg High and Parkersburg South compete against each other mano-a-mano 6 p.m. today at Stadium Field.
Beginning next year, the annual Parkersburg High-Parkersburg South football game is being moved to the final week of the regular season. At that juncture, the cross country season has ended.
"This is probably the last time we do this because they are moving the game to the end of the season and we can't have a meet that late," PHS coach Larry Games said.
Behind individual victories from Sean Snider and Kaylee Williams last year, the PHS runners extended its winning streak against its city rivals to two straight years.
The idea of conducting a cross country dual before the start of the football game between the two schools became reality 20 years ago with South winning the first two meets. However, PHS leads the overall series 16-3.
"This is the first one I've been involved in and maybe the last for the time being," said South first-year coach Jason Evans. "From what I've been told, it's definitely a different atmosphere."
In terms of numbers, PHS has the advantage. The Big Reds' roster consists of 24 boys and 25 girls, while South answers with 11 boys and 12 girls.
"With cross country, I try to remind people that only the top five score and the top 7 count," Evans said. "If I can get my top 7 to mix in with Parkersburg's top 7 then numbers beyond that won't matter."
This year's roster is the largest Games has ever coached.
"We are benefiting from our middle schools," Games noted. "A lot of the credit goes to the coaches. They really get into it and encourage kids to run for us when they leave the middle school."
Senior Nick Musgrave has established himself as the top male runner for PHS, while Williams has led the pack on the girls side. Others figured to make an impact for the Big Reds are Snider, Nick Cheuvront, Logan Wooten, John Bolton, Nicole Dent and Rachel Morris.
Williams will have her hands full trying to stay in front of South's top runner - senior April Kirk.
"April is the motivational person in practice," Evans said. "She's probably the only runner that was around who remembers that win in 2009, so she is trying to pump up the team."
In the boys race, South will pin its hopes on senior Justin Thompson and junior Derek Dillon, who have rotated between the Nos. 1 and 2 spots on this year's team. Sophomore Tylor Brown also has been in the mix, but is nursing an injury and most likely will not compete in today's race.
The two cross country programs have competed at the same meet three times this season with the Big Reds placing ahead of the Patriots on each occasion.
I know it is probably an uphill battle, but I like where we are and how hard the kids have worked," Evans said. "We will see what happens."