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Perfect Bulldog: DC’s Carter Lipscomb one win from undefeated season

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Doddridge County Bulldog Carter Lipscomb runs during the Chick-fil-A XC Invitational earlier this season. Lipscomb went on to win the race and all the others he participated in this year. Now, he runs for an undefeated season during the Class A state meet Saturday in Ona.

WEST UNION — Doddridge County’s top runner Carter Lipscomb blew away the Class A Region II tournament field by more than a minute, despite missing the last three weeks of competitive competition because of COVID-19 restrictions. With the win, his undefeated season stayed intact.

Now comes the real question: Can he finish it off?

One more win and a perfect season belongs to the Bulldog.

As it happens, that last race is for all the state marbles. A win would be quite the fitting ending for a senior who, according to Doddridge County head coach Craig Kellar, showed a perfect example of how to transform from a “decent” runner in middle school to someone at the top of the sport by the end of high school.

In order to obtain this happy ending, Lipscomb says he needs to dig deep one more time. Successfully doing so means his odds of achieving his goal are high after the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission split the classes up for the final competitions. His race features only Class A opponents.

Naturally, he fully intends to grasp the prize he’s worked so hard for throughout this season. “Obviously the goal is to get the individual win. But I want to break the Class AA and Class A meet record time of 15:52 which is currently held by a guy from Fairmont Senior. The goal is 15:49, that is what I have been training for all season.”

With this plan of attack, both Kellar and Lipscomb believe there are very few runners who can keep up with the Bulldog on the course Saturday at Cabell Midland High School.

“He (Carter) is confident and I don’t think anyone should be supremely overconfident, but if anyone is going to beat him they have to run really well because he will have his A game and be ready,” Kellar said. “He runs just as fast by himself as if he had someone beside him. If anyone can hold up under any condition it is him.”

His runner isn’t entering the race assuming he will come out with the win. “Obviously when you are talking about a state championship you never want to sell your competition short. I just need to run my race and what happens, happens,” Lipscomb said.

When asked who could be his main competition for the gold, he offered up Wheeling Central’s Aidan Scott. The freshman’s “blitzing” region-winning time of 17:12.87 is a “real and legit” threat. “He has a strong finishing kick and looks better on the track. If he can run that 15:45 pace with me than he will be in the running for a title,” he said.

Of course, there is one drawback for Scott.

He hasn’t run the course before as this is his inaugural trip to the last race. And Lipscomb referenced the learning curves throughout the path that eventually leads into the football stadium. “There are a lot of tight turns and you have to handle those well,” he said. “Most of the hills are on the front half and you have to stay controlled in the first half of the race and get ready to roll in the second half. You have to make your moves in the right places and not let emotion take over. The first mile will take a lot of people out. This race is based on feeling more than an experience thing.”

Runwv.com along with Lipscomb believes in Scott’s ability. The two runners are projected to finish first and second by the running website. Kellar hopes no one is up to the task of staying close with his runner.

Lipscomb though isn’t really concerned with any of that.

“I am just excited to go out there and show the state what a Single A kid can do,” Lipscomb said.

BOYS TEAM CAN ALSO CLAIM STATE TITLE

Lipscomb’s journey is a puzzle piece in the larger picture Doddridge County hopes to have put together after all is said and done in Ona. The chance exists for the Bulldogs to not just claim the top spot on the podium, but to be on the podium together as a team with the state championship trophy.

Doing so isn’t going to be easy.

Though only one other team is projected to battle with the Bulldogs, that group just so happens to be the defending state champions. Ritchie County presents a strong challenge and Kellar said it could come down to the six and seven runners for both groups. That was true at least until Williamstown came out of largely the nowhere to capture the Class A Region IV crown. “We better not overlook them because it is really hard to judge when you get down there and it is just Single A teams,” he said.

Predictions get even harder as the Class A kids won’t be bunched up with the AA groups.

“I would say the biggest difference in the splitting of the race is there won’t be as much chaos on the start line. 60 or 80 guys is less mayhem than in a 140-person field. It makes the job of the mid pack guys a lot easier. They can sit down relax and settle into pace,” Lipcomb said when asked the difference between the Class AA and A field being combined and being divided.

“Those other LKC teams will be ready to roll and Doddridge better be too,” Kellar said. It will be up to Trent Gola, Josh Berke, William Atkinson, Lipscomb and others to race to their fullest ability.

GIRLS TEAM NEEDS A PERFECT DAY

While the Bulldog boys need plenty to go right in their quest for a title, their counterparts require pretty much everything to go right to achieve their ultimate goal. Many runners putting together career days and strategies working to perfection required if they are to knock off Williamstown, according to Kellar.

“I think it is pretty obvious everyone in the state is running for second barring a wrong turn for the Yellowjackets’ bus,” he said with a laugh. “Let’s be honest. The ‘Jackets whooped us real good earlier this year and cross country isn’t like football and basketball where you can do something to stop your opponents.”

He’s right.

There’s very little strategy available to Maria Bee, Lexi Lamb, and Emily Gola outside of outrunning Williamstown’s Ella Hesson, Chloe Lightfritz and Natalie Sawin. Should they find a way, the trio will still need help from their teammates. Yellowjacket runners Brianna Winsett, Reagan Ortiz, Brookelyn Reynolds and Tori Combs provide head coach Larry Cassady with a formidable pack of back four runners. Their scores could be crucial in the event the top three girls for each team finish closer than projected.

Regardless, Kellar says his girls have a great chance to have success. “Our top three have a real chance to finish in the top 10 and that is the way they should approach it. Emily was top 12 last year in Class A/AA. Lexi ran well at the regionals and Bee has had a great season, too,” he said. “It is hard to judge for sure when you haven’t run a competitive race in three weeks. But I know all of them will do their best to get on that podium. They don’t care if it is A or AA. They are going to be busting their tails.”

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