State cross country meet today

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Parkersburg High School’s Olivia Collett, pictured here competing in the Class AAA regional at Mineral Wells earlier this month, will try and end her Big Red career today with a third all-state cross country plaque.

PARKERSBURG — A long season comes to its conclusion today when the annual state cross country championships get underway at Cabell Midland High School.

The Mid-Ohio Valley is expected to be well represented.

Ripley’s Tori Starcher returns to defend her Class AAA crown and will be challenged by Parkersburg’s Madison Trippett, who finished seventh last year and also earned all-state honors when she placed third as a freshman in 2016. Big Red teammate and senior Olivia Collett, who was fifth last year and ninth as a freshman back in 2015, is vying for a third career top 10 all-state finish.

None of the area Class AAA programs are expected to bring home team hardware according to, but several other big school athletes are hoping to make a push for a top 10 spot.

Parkersburg South senior Abby Herring, an all-stater as a freshman when she took fourth, will run for the last time at Ona today. She’s predicted just outside the top 10 in 14th while Ripley’s Tori Fisher is predicted to finish 22nd.

The Big Red boys are hoping Benjamin Lake (11th), Keegan Barnette (13th) or Franklin Angelos (17th) can crack the top 10. Lake placed 23rd in 2017. Ripley freshman Chase Pepper topped Angelos in the regional and will try to make his mark during his first trip to states.

The Williamstown girls of head coach Larry Cassady are heavy favorites to repeat as the Class A state champions. Ella Hesson, who is still trying to post a sub 19-minute time, ran 19:08 on the course last year as a freshman en route to an overall runner-up finish. Bridgeport senior Julia Muller is her top challenger and is favored to cross the finish line on Cabell Midland’s track first.

“I think we ran three races against her and Ella has beat her two of three times,” said coach Cassady, who noted Hesson won in St. Marys and at Marietta, but Muller topped Hesson on the state meet course. “It’s a hilly course and it’s soaking up the rain. It’s always good to finish on the track in front of everybody.

“I think the conditions are going to be kind of sloppy in the morning. We’re just lucky to be the first two races, I think.”

Today’s schedule will have the AA-A boys going at 10 a.m. followed at 10:45 a.m. by the girls. Class AAA will start at 1 p.m. with the boys and the girls to follow 45 minutes later.

Doddridge County, which is expected to grab Class A state runner-up honors, will have one more race from Desirae Schoonover. The senior Bulldog has been a stalwart in Ona during the past three years. She made all-state last fall when she finished fifth. Prior to that, she was seventh as a sophomore and placed third as a freshman.

While Hesson was the Little Kanawha Conference champion, Carter Lipscomb of Doddridge County won the title for the LKC boys and he’s expected to make all-state and crack the top 10. After a seventh-place showing last fall, Lipscomb is ranked second behind defending Class AA/A state champion Aaron Withrow of Winfield.

Ravenswood senior Bryce Jarrell grabbed all-state honors in 2017 by placing ninth and twin brother Blake Jarrell took 14th. Bryce Jarrell is predicted to place fourth, but no other LKC runner is expected to finish in the top 10. However, that’s why they run the race and fans should expect to see the likes of Tyler Consolidated’s Spencer Corley (11th), St. Marys senior Caleb Campbell (13th), Blake Jarrell (14th), Red Devil Deshone Cooper (17th) and the Ritchie County duo of Clayton Bee (21st) and Kent Bee (22nd) to be in the mix.

The Rebel boys are expected to hoist the Class A team title with Doddridge County and Ravenswood battling for second place.

Williamstown’s Natalie Sawin and St. Marys’ Erica Davis, predicted by to take 10th and 13th place, respectively, are also hoping to make all-state. Rebel Gwyn Napier was 14th as a junior and the senior is predicted to finish 22nd, two spots behind Jessie Higgins of St. Marys and one spot ahead of fellow RCHS teammate Olivia Cress.

“We’re excited about being here,” added Cassady, who watched the ‘Jacket boys advance out of the regional as a team. “We want to go out there and put our best foot forward. We want everyone to have a good race, finish healthy and we’re looking forward to racing in the morning.”