Pair of Big Reds earn All-MSAC

RIPLEY -A close encounter with earning all-conference honors a year ago made Parkersburg cross country runners Nic Cheuvront and Rachel Morris that much more hungrier to crack the top 10 at Wednesday’s Mountain State Athletic Conference Championship.

In the opening race at Cedar Lakes, Morris placed seventh overall in a time of 21:04 and wrapped up her third all-conference selection in four years. Capital’s Peyton Panger won easily and crossed the finish line in 19:19.

“The girls in our conference are some of the best in the state, so it is really good competition,” said Morris, who was one position away from equaling her best finish at MSAC. “I’m proud of myself because I didn’t run well last week and I needed a confidence boost. I had a good race (against Parkersburg South), but I was out to win it and I didn’t, so I was kind of disappointed.

“Today, there was a really crowded start and I kind of got stuck behind. I didn’t have the best start in the world but I made my way around to get up where I wanted to be.”

In the boys race, Cheuvront led the field as they approached the one-mile mark. However, from that point on George Washington’s Matthew Brafford emerged as the frontrunner and never looked back while posting a winning time of 16:12.62. Cheuvront played a cat-and-mouse game with Winfield’s RJ Weiford (17:20.20) and Cabell Midland’s Nick Salmons (17:20.46) the remainder of the race and settled for fourth place (17:22.30).

A year ago, Morris placed 11th at conference, while Cheuvront was 13th.

“I was trying to get out real fast – I was actually expecting (Brafford) to go out faster than he did,” Cheuvront said. “I went out strong because I hoping to get out in front of (Weiford) and (Salmons) so they wouldn’t be able to pass me. Back in the hills, they passed me and I couldn’t get back with them.

“It was a hard course with the muddy conditions. The guy who won is ranked first in the state – he is an outstanding runner. So I was going for second, which was a win in my mind.”

In the chase for the team title in the girls division, only seven points separated first-pace Huntington (34) from runner-up Winfield (41). Behind another pair of top 20 placewinners in Holly Ackerman (15th, 21:57) and Jordan Waters (20th, 22:12), the Big Reds placed third with 85 points while Haley Ford (39th, 23:15) and Molli Cunningham (40th, 23:24) led Ripley to a seventh-place showing with 212 points.

Morris is anxiously awaiting next Thursday’s Class AAA regional meet in Mineral Wells where four of the top 10 ranked teams will converge – including No. 1 Morgantown.

“To be honest, I’m nervous,” Morris said. “Our region is the hardest for cross country. With University close behind Morgantown, only the top three teams go to state so it will be close with Preston and Parkersburg South.”

As for the boys division at MSAC, four Cabell Midland runners placed in the top 10 and led the Knights to the championship with 33 points. Following runner-up Hurricane (72) was Parkersburg (77) in third place.

John Bolton (13th, 18:00.65) and Logan Wooten (15th, 18:08.24) represented PHS in the top 20 as did Jake Casto (11th, 17:58.18) and Remington Boyce (12th, 17:58.74) for sixth-place Ripley (154).