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LKC crowns league cross country’s champions

‘Jacket girls, Rebel boys finish on top of podium

CAIRO — Thursday’s Little Kanawha Conference cross country championships at the Cokeley Recreation Area at North Bend State Park were unlike any other.

Due to Mountain State COVID-19 restrictions, the entire Doddridge County program was not allowed the chance to participate. The Bulldogs of head coach Craig Kellar have the top-ranked boys team in Class A and the No. 2 girls squad according to the runwv.com rankings.

Nonetheless, Ella Hesson captured her fourth straight LKC crown as the Yellowjackets had five of the top six finishers in the field en route to a 15-64 victory versus runner-up St. Marys. It also marked a four-peat for the ‘Jacket girls of head man Larry Cassady.

Ritchie County’s boys, who four-peated and garnered first team all-LKC honors from Isaac Slater (4th), Brady Layman (5th), Heath Knight (6th), Creed Knight (7th), Tatem Elliott (9th), Jeremiah Dalton (11th) and JD Henderson (12th), knocked off Williamstown, 26-50.

Sophomore Zach Cannon of Williamstown captured the individual title with his clocking of 17 minutes and 43 seconds, which bested runner-up A.J. Petrovsky of Wirt County by six seconds.

“Of course, it was not going to happen if Carter Lipscomb was going to be there,” admitted WHS boys coach Cliff Taylor of the top-ranked senior Bulldog, who was expected to three-peat as LKC champ.

“I feel bad for him not being there, but the show goes on and you got to step up and do it. Zach didn’t really pull away from him until after they came off the hill and the last 300 meters.”

Haygen Baker of Tyler Consolidated was 17 ticks off the winning pace and finished third. Also earning first team all-LKC nods were Williamstown’s Dawson Winsett (8th) and Alex Cockerham (10th).

“I told him he had a good shot at it,” Taylor said of Cannon, who also watched Chase Trembly (14th) and Dax Chancellor (27th) score for the ‘Jackets.

“The boy from Tyler and the kid from Wirt County had beat him during the year, but they were really close. I just knew he was carrying himself really well.”

Hesson concluded her dominate LKC career with a victorious 20:28 effort. Brianna Winsett, Natalie Sawin and Chloe Lightfritz followed with Tyler Consolidated’s Emily Ebert in fifth.

The Yellowjackets also received first team all-LKC performances from Reagan Ortiz (6th) and Brookelyn Reynolds (8th).

“We talked to the girls before the race and we know some teams are not here, but you guys have been training to win this thing regardless of who shows up,” noted Cassady. “We started telling them two weeks ago to run every race like it’s your last one.”

Sawin and Lightfritz made all-LKC first team for the third time in their careers.

“It was a PR in placement. It was faster than she ran it last week,” Cassady said of Winsett’s runner-up effort. “Her goal was to put up a good time.

“She went out with Ella and hung with her as long as she could. Reagan and Tori (Combs, 13th) and Brookelyn Reynolds, they’ve been running together at practice and it showed.”

The runner-up Blue Devils were led by first team thinclads Erica Davis (11th) and Josey Moore (12th). Also scoring for SMHS were second team honorees Sophie Greenleaf (15th), Caraline Lancaster (18th) and Bralynn Davis (20th).

Alivia Moffatt of Webster County (7th), Ritchie County’s Lillie Law (9th) and Calhoun County’s Savannah Cunningham (10th) also earned first team honors.

Doddridge County sophomores Emily Gola and Hailey Keith would’ve been seeking repeat first team all-LKC status after placing fourth and sixth, respectively, a year ago. Bulldog Trent Gola finished third at the LKC in 2019 as a junior.

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