Chick-fil-A Invite has smaller field

Varsity races will take place in two groups

PARKERSBURG — The 22nd annual Chick-fil-A Invitational, which is set for a 9 a.m. start on Saturday morning at the Wood County 4-H grounds, will have quite a different look to it this year.

“Because of WVSSAC guidelines and protocols, we have had to tone down the meet and have just over 20 high schools and just over 20 middle schools competing,” stated race director Sam Vincent.

The varsity portion of the races will have four different groups — two each for boys and girls in the morning and in the afternoon.

New team and individual champions will be crowned after the finishing times are scored following the final varsity competition at 2:30 p.m.

Last year’s team champions Winfield (girls) and Bridgeport (boys) aren’t in the limited field due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Doddridge County’s Carter Lipscomb ran a 15:50 at the event in 2019 and will be looking to improve upon his runner-up finish. At least week’s St. Mary’s Medical Center race, the senior Bulldog topped the field by 33 seconds.

Also taking second place a year ago was Williamstown’s Ella Hesson. The Yellowjacket senior finished third at the SMMC event last weekend. Ripley freshman Ellie Hosaflook won the race with a time of 19 minutes and 38 seconds, which was a minute faster than Hesson.

“That was our first meet down there at Huntington,” said Williamstown head coach Larry Cassady. “Honestly, I thought they did pretty good. The conditions were pretty sloppy. We were the third race to go off and it was pretty chewed up and kind of sloppy. I think everybody’s time was off a little bit, but as a team they raced very well and did the pack running and finished really well as a team.”

The WHS girls, who have won the last three Class A cross country state championships, finished behind champion Preston and runner-up Ripley. Aside from Hosaflook, the Jackson County squad also had top 20 finishes from senior Jadyn Casto and freshman Opal Huffman.

Finishing behind Hesson in the top 20 were teammates Chloe Lightfritz, Brianna Winsett and Natalie Sawin.

“They got us in there with Ripley so it will be a good race,” coach Cassady said of the ‘Jackets being in the 10:30 a.m. starting slot with the Vikings, DCHS, Parkersburg and Wheeling Park. “We’re just trying to keep them focused this year. Once race at a time and one meet at a time.

“There’s a lot of distractions out there right now and you can get caught up on that pretty easily. You still have to run 3.1 miles no matter what. We’re just trying to keep them focused. At the beginning of the year it’s almost like hooking up a wagon to a blind horse.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com


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