’Jackets win state cross country title

Ripley’s Starcher an individual champion

Tori Starcher of Ripley High School finishes first in the girls AAA during the state cross country championship at Cabell Midland High School in Ona, W.V., on Saturday, October 28, 2017.

ONA, W.Va. — Ripley’s Tori Starcher put on a dominating performance to cap her sophomore campaign while the Williamstown girls and the Doddridge County boys topped the field here Saturday at Cabell Midland High School during the state cross country championships.

Parkersburg High School had a trio of all-staters (top 10 finishers). Head coach Larry Games’ Big Reds received a sixth-place finish from Ian Domenick (16:19). Olivia Collett placed fifth with a time of 18 minutes and 46 seconds. Teammate Madison Trippett was just four seconds off Collett’s pace and garnered seventh.

Starcher missed last year’s meet as she continued to recover from a shattered growth plate in her left foot. The 10th-grader, who finished in 17 minutes and 34 seconds for a 20-second win, made the most of her first crack at the course, pulling away from University’s TaShala Turner for the championship.

“Coming in, I knew the first part of the course was the hardest, so I wanted to go out a little more comfortably,” said the Viking, who was followed by freshman teammate Jadyn Casto (28th, 20:48). “I knew (Turner) would have a good third mile, so I just wanted to push the last mile and have a better one.”

The race between Starcher and Turner was even tougher because of the familiarity the two have with each other. Starcher said that knowledge helped her on Saturday.

“I kind of know how she runs because I train with her,” she said. “So I know she’s a pretty consistent runner and is better in long distances. I knew I had to have a good third mile to pull out the win.”

Parkersburg’s girls finished third (101) as a team, behind champion University (42) and runner-up Morgantown (57). Morgantown’s boys rolled to the title by easily besting Hurricane, 49-93. The Big Red boys, who got top 30 finishes from Benjamin Lake (23rd, 17:12) and Will Lemaster (26th, 17:17), placed fourth as a team.

Williamstown’s Ella Hesson made a late push to clock in at 19 minutes and 8 seconds to finish as the Class AA/A runner-up. She just nipped Erykah Christopher of East Fairmont by a single second as Philip Barbour’s Jessica Melvin (18:57) won the title.

The Yellowjacket girls, who won the Little Kanawha Conference championship and finished runner-up at the regional behind Class AA state champion Winfield (beat Philip Barbour, 90-92), also received all-state honors from senior Kasey McNamara (9th, 19:48).

“Coach (Cliff) Taylor was out on the course motivating them and coach (Michelle) Hesson and I had them when they hit the track,” WHS head girls coach Larry Cassady said. “We talked to Kasey before the meet. She was like maybe 13th or 14th at the 2-mile and she just kept working her way up. Ella was probably fourth or fifth at the 2-mile and she ran her (Christopher) down on the track right at the line.

“The girls are a little excited. The course was chewed up a little bit and it was awful wet, but we had four girls who ran PRs. It’s been a real good season.”

Not only did Hesson and McNamara set personal records, but Emilee Ellison (35th, 21:21) and Carson Hesson (58th, 22:18) did so as well. It was the first state cross country title for the Yellowjackets since winning the Class AA crown in 1997.

Doddridge County’s Desirae Schoonover was the only other area female to earn all-state honors. The Bulldog crossed in 19 minutes and 24 seconds, which was good for fifth as the gang from West Union brought back the single-A state runner-up trophy.

The Bulldog boys, who were paced by all-stater Carter Lipscomb (7th, 16:53), were seventh as a team and had more than enough to win the Class A crown as Ravenswood grabbed second in the small school race. East Fairmont beat Fairmont Senior, 96-104, for the Class AA title.

Last year’s first-ever Class A state champion St. Marys didn’t qualify as a team out of a tough regional, but head coach Steven Nutter had a pair of all-staters. Senior Blue Devils Brady Gorrell (5th, 16:45) and Walker Hashman (6th, 16:50) both ended their careers in style.

Runner-up Ravenswood got an all-state effort from Bryce Jarrell, who finished ninth overall with a time of 16:54.74. He was just behind Robert C. Byrd’s Samuel Starkey (16:54.25) for eighth and finished just ahead of Point Pleasant’s Luke Wilson (10th, 16:54.87).

Also finishing in the top 30 from the area in Class AAA were Ellie Dario (PHS, 23rd, 20:32), Abby Herring (South, 24th, 20:32), Emily Cunningham (PHS, 29th, 20:52) and Kerwyn Marshall (South, 25th, 17:16).

Gwyn Napier (Ritchie, 18th, 20:36), Jaklin Schoonover (DCHS, 26th, 20:54), Blake Jarrell (Ravenswood, 14th, 17:22), Jarett Allender (Ritchie, 19th, 17:34), Brennan Gum (DCHS, 28th, 17:49) and Spencer Corley (Tyler, 30th, 17:50) also garnered top 30 finishes in Class AA/A.

Derek Redd of the Gazette-Mail contributed to this report.

¯ In Ohio, Belpre’s Eli Fullerton, Caldwell’s Levi Pemberton and Warren’s Trent Sayre all advanced our of regional competition and on to the state meet.

In the Division III meet and Pickerington, Fullerton finished 18th with a time of 16 minutes, 52 seconds. Belpre placed 12th as a team.

Also in D3, Pemberton was two places behind Fullerton with a time 16:52.92. Caldwell also competed as a team, but Pemberton was the only state qualifier.

In Division II, Warren’s Sayre came in with a ninth place finish. Sayre timed in at 16:43.06 to qualify for next weekend’s state meet.