ALBRIGHT: Doddridge girls’ cross country just injected adrenaline into Class A state title race

The bite overwhelmed the sting.

On Thursday, the Doddridge County Bulldogs savored the sweet taste of a Little Kanawha Conference championship victory. Top runner Lexi Lamb struck hard and Katie Cottrill struck fast all while everyone in green and yellow went about chomping a hole wide open in the Class A state title race.

No kidding.

The incision being big enough the Williamstown dynasty quite clearly can see each and every Bulldog runner and head coach Craig Kellar.

Don’t take this lightly. Embrace the parity. Love the competition. And get ready for a great finish. There’s going to be no shortage of competitive feelings between the Yellowjackets and the Bulldogs. It may not be Clean Old-Fashioned Hate, like a battling amongst the Georgia Bulldogs and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football teams, but the knashing of teeth isn’t over.

Delivering that kind of blow is akin to poking the metaphorical bear. You know, they are prodding danger. Doddridge County, now, having Williamstown’s full attention. And that might not be a good thing, yet Kellar and company aren’t backing off.

“Do I prefer we lost the LKC to stir up the Yellowjackets’ nest? No. I prefer that we win the meets and the girls get the training that they need and that they stay on task,” Kellar said.

Well, he certainly got his wish, on multiple fronts. And that IS a good thing.

Lamb owning the knowledge she can beat cross country wunderkind Alyssa Sauro makes things much easier for her to attack Sauro at the state tournament. Coming into the meet, the Yellowjacket looked unbeatable and like a runner that would finish the state tournament field in front of everyone in all three classifications. It is still possible that happens.

Remember about poking the bear? Sauro won’t take the loss, lightly. She has big plans and goals. Those both include being a four-time individual state champion. In other words, there’s plenty motivating her.

For example, just listen how Lamb took the lead on Thursday.

“Alyssa got out in front eight to ten yards and Lexi just kept working behind her. When I next saw them, Lexi was out in front by a good distance and I didn’t think Alyssa could make it up,” Kellar said.

Losing a race like that can’t be easy, and now things between the top two runners are exhilarating.

Speaking of exciting, Cottrill continuing her climb toward the top of the pyramid. Pulling down milestones, clearing hard-to-reach obstacles, and gaining a new found confidence in the process, something seemingly has clicked inside her. Whether that is the switch, her full talent finally coming out, or all her training … there’s a different factor about her.

Not to mention, it isn’t just Cottrill. Three through seven the Bulldogs impressed. And that of course, that is going to be where the state championship is decided.

Now, is it possible the Yellowjackets just had an off day? Sure. All-State runner Chloe Lightfritz being out creating a bit of a mismatch favors the Bulldogs.

Then again, Doddridge County missing Emily Gola means the Bulldogs weren’t at full strength, either. Upon her return, Kellar and company read gauges back to normal.

Trust this, all the momentum and feeling won’t be evaporating over the next two weeks. The two may not see each other this week, but Kellar believes his girls can win a state title and conquer the Yellowjackets again.

“To win a state title, you have to be good enough and you have to be good enough on the day of the state tournament,” Kellar said. “Lately, they have been slaying us pretty good and I am sure this is not over, neither team is going to give in.”

Now, that is what you call a rush.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.


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