‘Jackets on top again: Alyssa Sauro leads Williamstown to Belpre Invite title

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Williamstown’s Alyssa Sauro sets new meet record time of 17 minutes and 50 seconds at Saturday’s Belpre Invitational at Civitan Park.

BELPRE — Williamstown freshman Alyssa Sauro and Oregon-bound University High School senior Josh Edwards shattered meet records here Saturday morning during the fourth annual Belpre Cross County Invitational at Civitan Park.

The Yellowjacket girls (66) of head coach Mike Taylor also fended off University (79) and Doddridge County (81) for the team title.

University not only had Edwards finish in 15 minutes and 24 seconds to break the 15:46 old mark set last year by Belpre’s Eli Fullerton, but the Hawks dominated the field with just 21 points thanks to runner-up Rocco DeVincent (15:49) and fellow scorers Ryan Blohm (4th, 16:08), Drew Zundell (6th, 16:17) and Jacob West (8th, 16:25).

During the inaugural event, Ripley graduate and current Stanford thinclad Tori Starcher finished in 18 minutes and 34 seconds to set the pace.

However, Sauro crossed the finish line near the Ohio River with a clocking of 17 minutes and 50 seconds. Preston senior Allie Martin (18:47) and Doddridge County junior Lexi Lamb (19:03) followed.

“She smoked everyone,” Lamb said not long after she took a picture with Sauro and Martin. “Williamstown, they are loaded. They are always loaded. They are amazing.”

Sauro watched teammate Brianna Winsett place ninth with a time of 20:33 while Lexi Wynn (14th, 21:10), Reagan Ortiz (17th, 21:23) and Ava Lightfritz (35th, 22:14) also scored.

“I was talking to my dad on Facetime. He couldn’t be here today,” Sauro said of her greeting shortly after she won. “It was really humid.”

The ninth grader admitted “I haven’t ran this (course), but my time was 17:50 and the team’s goal was just to win because we’ve been really close with Doddridge. I’m really happy with how I’m doing and how the team is doing. I think everything is going really well right now.”

University’s Adelyn Tager finished in 19:51 to place fourth. She was followed by Bulldog Katie Cottrill (20:05), Fort Frye’s Cadence Waller (20:15), River Valley’s Lauren Twyman (20:22) and Sarah Deering of Athens, who posted a 20:30. Fort Frye’s Emma Richards (20:41) rounded out the top 10.

“She’s our freshman that’s crazy talented,” Lamb said of Cottrill, who was followed by teammates Bailey Holden (18th, 21:27), Emily Gola (30th, 21:58) and Maria Bee (39th, 22:39). “She works really hard and she pushes me hard every single practice.

“We’ve worked really hard and my team has been pushing me and motivating me to go harder. I didn’t even hit the 19s except once last year. It was like a 19:40 and this year I ran an 18:38 (current PR). It’s not as good as I want.”

Fort Frye, which also had scoring runs from Ava Huck (13th, 21:06), Laine Spindler (31st, 22:01) and Maggie Fulton (58th, 23:30), finished a strong fourth with 100 points. The Deering-led Bulldogs of Athens amassed 156 points for fifth.

The top local effort for the boys came from Belpre’s Blake Rodgers taking third place with a time of 16 minutes flat. Marietta’s Ezra Minard was 16 seconds behind in fifth place. Also cracking the top 10 were Fisher Catholic’s Noah Sharp (7th, 16:22), Doddridge County’s Trent Gola (9th, 16:35) and Warren’s Bryson Angelo (10th, 16:36).

“It’s kind of humbling,” Rodgers admitted of racing against the likes of Edwards and his teammates. “You know there’s always someone out there better than you. They ran really well. I tried to go out with them for the first mile and I hung in there for a little while then Josh ran away and eventually Rocco did, too.

“16-flat was right around what I was going for. I felt good and I felt like I had a little bit left at the end. Right around race time it started heating up a little bit, but it felt pretty good and we had plenty of water.”

When asked if he was content with a third-place showing the Golden Eagle responded, “against this competition, yeah.”

The Fisher Catholic boys were a distant second with 136 points, which topped third-place Athens (144), fourth-place Williamstown (159) and fifth-place Warren (174).

“I didn’t race my last track season until pretty late into the summer so it kind of threw my schedule off a bit,” said the record-breaking Edwards. “That’s why racing has been a little bit weird, but now I’m picking up in the groove of things and no more meets where I won’t be running. You can count on that.”

Edwards also added, “I mean I was told it was a flat course. There’s like a lot of turns and stuff. It was a fun race. It got pretty hot mid-race. It became kind of brutal there toward the end. The guys are looking good, probably the strongest University has ever been. We’re pretty closely packed together and looking for a third state (individual) title.”

Wood County Christian’s Michael Cline posted a 16:38 and just missed out on a top 10 finish and had to settle for 12th.

Erik Dabelko paced Athens by finishing 21st with a time of 17 minutes and 32 seconds.

Others leading their respective schools for the boys were Federal Hocking’s Evan McPherson (11th, 16:38), Eastern’s Connor Nolan (14th, 16:50), Fort Frye’s Phinn Spindler (16th, 16:56), Bridgeport’s Sam Dodson (18th, 17:28), Williamstown’s Julian Johnson (19th, 17:30), Tyler Consolidated ‘s Haygen Baker (23rd, 17:48), Ravenswood’s Cade Curfman (25th, 17:54), Alexander’s Tyler Wallace (33rd, 18:10), Ritchie County’s Heath Knight (35th, 18:11), River Valley’s Cody Wooten (36th, 18:14), South Gallia’s Gabe Frazee (37th, 18:17), Waterford’s Dylan Hartline (46th, 18:47), Caldwell’s Blake Miller (53rd, 18:57), Gallia Academy’s Logan Nicholas (59th, 19:16), Shenandoah’s Mason Stottsberry (90th, 21:18) and Southern’s Braydon Kingery (158th, 27:17)

Also leading their respective teams on Saturday were Bridgeport’s Kaitlin Pappas (11th, 20:58), Eastern’s Erica Durst (12th, 21:03), Marietta’s Ava Gebczyk (15th, 21:16), River’s Mara Beard (16th, 21:18), Ritchie County’s Chesnee Williams (22nd, 21:35), Federal Hocking’s Rosemary Stephens (23rd, 21:39), Fisher Catholic’s Ruby Hagy (28th, 21:53), Waterford’s Averi Schwendeman (29th, 21:56), Ravenswood’s Emily Wratchford (32nd, 22:03), Warren’s Grace Randall (38th, 22:25), Belpre’s Maddie Sprigg (42nd, 22:53), Alexander’s Leah Esselbum (49th, 23:08), Gallia Academy’s Madison Clagg (52nd, 23:12), Caldwell’s Teagan Secrest (53rd, 23:23), Nelsonville-York’s Alayna Okulich (59th, 23:33), Tyler Consolidated’s Trinity Kanz (62nd, 23:40), Wood County Christian’s Rowyn Wharton (74th, 24:32), Trimble’s Alison McCoy (88th, 25:12), Southern’s Ava Roush (89th, 25:20), Shenandoah’s Denali Waers (102nd, 26:16) and South Gallia’s Krystyna Svystrovych (116th, 27:34).

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com


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