BELMONT – It never hurts to make a good first impression and Tyler Consolidated freshman Amanda Reynolds sure did that Saturday morning as the Silver Knight cross country athlete posted a winning time of 21 minutes and 45 seconds to capture first place at the 29th annual Autumn Classic.
“Not at all,” replied Reynolds when asked if she thought she was going to win the meet when she woke up this morning. “I was trying to do my best, but I guess that happened.”
Indeed it did as Reynolds topped St. Albans’ Rachel Beck (22:11), Robert C. Byrd’s Lavania LeMasters (22:13), Shadyside’s Sophia Ferrelli (22:17) and Liberty Harrison’s Hannah Ramirez, who finished fifth with a clocking of 22:25.
“I wasn’t going on time,” Reynolds admitted when questioned if she had a set a specific goal. “I was just going on trying to do my best.”
LeMasters had the early lead, but Reynolds said she was able to take control once they reached the hills.
“Our team runs a lot of hills in practice and that’s where I got her,” said the ninth-grader, whose junior teammate Amber Watson finished seventh with a time of 23:45. “Our whole course is hills.
“I stayed steady until the hills then I kind of went (picked up the pace) from there. I just want to try and get better and get my time better now.”
Paden City’s Kayla Hizer cracked the top 10 with her time of 24:01, which was good for ninth.
Host St. Marys was led by Alex Gorrell (11th, 24:06) and the only other area top 20 placers were Doddridge County’s Megan Carder (24:36) and Wirt County’s Mary Kerby (24:37), who finished 19th and 20th, respectively.
The Bridgeport girls, who were led by Caroline Ferrell’s 10th place effort of 24 minutes and 3 seconds, captured the team title by a 79-87 margin versus Shadyside. Oak Glen (91) finished a strong third while Doddridge County (131) was a distant fourth.
In the boys competition, Elkins senior Matt Wallace won first thanks to his time of 17 minutes and 23 seconds, which helped the Tigers to a runner-up finish behind team champion Bridgeport, 61-82. The Ripley boys had a solid team effort and finished third with 97 points, but Fairmont Senior was well back in fourth with 170 points.
Although Wallace led from the onset, Doddridge County 10th-grader Hunter Riffle had quite the day as the Bulldog took runner-up honors with a time of 17 minutes and 35 seconds.
“This is my first year running cross country,” said Riffle, who also plays football for head coach Bobby Burnside. “I’ve always been able to keep my endurance up because I play so many sports, but they asked me to run for them.
“I told them football comes first, but every time I get a chance I’ll go and practice and I’ll come run for them. I was just hoping to learn how to run it (cross country).”
The closest competitors to Riffle were St. Albans’ John Sandy (17:55), Riverside’s Nick Kennedy (17:56) and Fairmont Senior’s Jakeb Van Horn, whose time of 18:18 was good for fifth.
Ripley was led to its third place showing by 15th place Antonio Jones (18:53). Viking Dalton Fisher (19:33) was 20th and was followed by teammates Levi Phillips (21st, 19:33), Remington Boyce (22nd, 19:39) and Trenton Johnson (29th, 20:14).
Also posting top 20 efforts at Abicht’s Landing were Wirt County’s Glenn McMillan (11th, 18:40) and St. Marys’ Brady Gorrell (18th, 19:13).