BELMONT - The 28th annual Autumn Classic will begin at 9 a.m. today at Abicht's Landing just outside of Belmont as nearly 30 teams are expected to participate in the high school division alone.
Both new team champions and individual winners will be crowned this morning in the high school 5K run.
Neither Philip Barbour (girls) nor Ripley (boys) are in the field to defend titles won last year. Also, Maggie Drazba of St. Marys graduated and has moved on to West Virginia University. Matthew Bradford, who won the two-mile race of the News and Sentinel Half Marathon last Saturday, is the defending boys champion, but George Washington isn't in the field.
St. Marys head coach Glenda Cottrill is excited to get the season going.
"Saturday will give us a better idea of how the runners are going to line up on the team and how the season will look for us," she said.
According to the preseason rankings at runwv.com, the top boy (Ritchie County's Johnny Hogue) and top girl (Oak Glen's Kelsey Chambers) will be on hand. However, those top two runners in the Class AA/A division will have to compete against all the triple-A schools.
28th Annual Autumn Classic
at Abicht's Landing near Belmont
High School Field
St. Marys, Braxton County, Tyler Consolidated, Notre Dame, Weir, Robert C. Byrd, Doddridge County, Ravenswood, Linsly, Wheeling Central, Oak Glen, Paden City, Calhoun County, Elkins, Wirt County, Nitro, Magnolia, Wheeling Park, Liberty (Harrison), John Marshall, Parkersburg South, Bridgeport, Weir, Sissonville, Williamstown, Brooke, Riverside, Cameron
9 a.m. - High School Girls 5K
9:40 a.m. - High School Boys 5K
10:20 a.m. - Middle School Boys 3K
111 a.m. - Middle School Girls 3K
The only ranked preseason runner in the top 10 of runwv.com for Class AAA is No. 5 Austin Hamrick of Elkins.
Hogue should be challenged by not only Hamrick, but also by PikeView's Jason Weitzel, who was ranked No. 3 in the preseason. Wirt County's Glenn McMillan is ranked sixth and Bridgeport's Matthew Dearth held down the No. 7 preseason spot. Hogue finished third last year and McMillan was seventh.
"We look forward to Glenn having a really good year," said Wirt County head coach Lacey Mills. "I'm interested to see how everyone performs in the first meet. They've been working really hard in practice and now we get the adrenaline and the race atmosphere."
Only three other females expected to compete at today's Autumn Classic are listed in the top 10 of the runwv.com preseason poll for Class AA/A and they are all from the Little Kanawha Conference - Ravenswood teammates Hailey Miller (No. 4) and Taylor Treadway (No. 9) along with Williamstown's Cami Mosser (No. 8). In 2012, Miller finished five seconds ahead of Mosser to take 10th place. Also of note, the WHS girls are heavy preseason favorites to win the state meet.
The high school girls will get the event started and the boys are expected to begin around 9:40 a.m. After that, the middle school boys will go around 10:20 a.m. and then the middle school girls will conclude their 3K run starting at approximately 11 a.m.