Big Red boys 1st at Chick-fil-A Invitational race

Ripley’s Tori Starcher is the first girl to cross the finish line at Saturday’s Chick-fil-A Invitational in Mineral Wells. Photo by Ron Johnston

MINERAL WELLS — Parkersburg High’s varsity harriers enjoyed a productive Saturday on the 5K race course.

The Big Red boys claimed the team title with 78 points, while the red and white girls were runners-up in their run at the Chick-fil-A Invitational cross country meet at the Wood County 4-H Campground.

“The guys ran well today,” said PHS runner Ian Domenick, who led the Big Reds with a PR (personal record) clocking of 16 minutes, 16 seconds, which was good for sixth place overall.

“The first mile, I ran it in about five minutes, and after the second, I was at 10:02,” Domenick continued. “At that point in the race, I mean, obviously, I wanted to place high but I’m running against both triple-A and double-A competition today, and I just wanted to hold where I was — and I had about a 30-second PR for me. So, I’m thrilled.”

Parkersburg’s other team scorers were Benjamin Lake, Will Lemaster, Anthony Bradford, and Keegan Barnette.

In a field of 40 schools, Parkersburg South finished fourth; Marietta High, ninth; and Caldwell High, 11th.

Kerwyn Marshall paced the Patriots, while Collin Doughty was the Tigers’ top runner. Levi Pemberton led the Redskins, and Ethan Beck did the same for Williamstown.

“The guys have been working hard, and when you have a group of guys who’ve been together for four years, it’s a good cameraderie,” said first-year Marietta XC boss Amanda Mercer. “Their hard work is paying off. We’re excited for them.”

Doughty said that he PR’ed the Chick-fil-A course with a time of 16:42, good for 12th place.

“There are some really good athletes at this meet,” said Doughty, whose career PR is 16:29, set at last year’s ECOL meet in Cambridge. “I think there were 250 kids in this race alone. It was very good competition and very fast-paced.”

“I kind of paced myself back,” the MHS runner added. “I wanted to make sure that I was up in the Top 20. In my last mile, I just let my adrenaline take hold and tried to pass as many people as I could. I made sure I gave it my all again.”

Winfield High’s Aaron Withrow was first all with a winning time of 15:54

“Aaron was favored, and he’s a good runner,” Domenick said. “We’ve had a couple of good races in the past.

“The first two miles, I was pretty close, and then I slowed down a little bit. I mean, for the most part, there was a group of six of us and we stayed together for most of it.”

On the girls’ side, PHS scored 114 points to Cabell Midland’s winning 112.

Individually, Madison Trippett of the Big Reds was second overall in 18:19 to Ripley winner Tori Starcher. Parkersburg’s Olivia Collett was third.

“She’s really good,” said Trippett of Starcher. “She was way ahead of me from the start.”

“I wanted to break 19 minutes today, so I’m pretty excited,” the Big Reds’ sophomore runner added. “Normally, I go out too hard in races and end up dying. But last week at Cabell, I went out too slow, because I was trying to counteract it. This week, I just tried to go out my normal pace, and I think I did it for the most part.”

Parkersburg’s other scorers were Ellie Dario, Katie Farinash, and Emily Cunningham.

Starcher, who is 3-0 in races so far this XC season with wins also at Cabell Midland and the Autumn Classic in St. Marys, never trailed and won going away in a PR of 17:34.

“I knew coming in that I wanted to break 18,” said Starcher, a Viking sophomore. “So, I kind of just wanted to get after it and get out fast. I had a quick couple of miles. I didn’t know if anybody was going to hang with me in the beginning.”

No girl did on the relatively flat course with just a couple of hills.

“She’s (Starcher) awesome” said Williamstown freshman Ella Hesson, who was fifth in 19:14. “She works really hard on everything she does.”

Lauren Fry paced Caldwell, while Kyla Marshall did the same for Parkersburg South.

Marietta’s leading runner was freshman Cierra Space, who PR’d in 20:43.

“Cierra had a real nice race today and a PR,” Mercer said. “She’s really happy with her finish. She’s really maturing quickly as a runner.”

Note: In middle school competition, Franklin Angelos of Wood County Christian School won the boys’ 3K run in 9:20.3.