Bearcat XC hits the ground running with three events already completed


GRAFTON—The Grafton High School (GHS) Cross Country (XC) program has been making their way across the hilly terrain of North Central West Virginia and has worked to improve their finishes each time they run.

To start off their season, Bearcat XC runners headed to The Bridge Sports Complex in Bridgeport to take part in the Charles Pointe Invitational on August 27.

Both the boy’s and girl’s teams took on competitors from 13 area schools, and the GHS runners would find themselves finishing comfortably, with the Bearcats Boys leading the charge in third place.

During the invitational, it would be senior JT Veltri crossing the finish line first for the Cats, with an impressive time of 19:09.1, finishing out the day in 8th place out of 70 runners.

Sophomore MJ Niggemeyer followed the lead of season runner Veltri, finishing the course with a time of 19:14.1, keeping close pace with his elder teammate and claiming a 7th place overall finish at the event.

Freshman newcomers Colson Annon (20:04.2, 16th place), Bryce Isner (23:43.7, 45th place) and senior Gavin Royce (26:12.9, 56th place) rounded out the race for the Bearcats.

On the female’s side of action, it would be running all-star, junior Emily Viani claiming the first finish for the Lady Cats, earning a 10th place overall finish with an outstanding time of 23:03.9, helping to land the team in seventh place overall.

Freshman runner Sophie Austin (25:02.3, 23rd place) and junior River Sipes (25:16.5, 26th place) were the next GHS ladies to cross the finish line, followed by back-to-back finishes of freshman Natalee Cartwright (27:34.4) and senior Lady Bearcat Carrie Ellen Richards (27:26.8) finishing in 42nd and 43rd places overall.

Kevie Sipes, in her second year as a Bearcat runner, (27:56.4, 45th place) and junior Kayla Greathouse (29:33.7, 55th place) rounded out the top runners for the Lady Cats.

The team was also represented on the course by Cheyenne Duncan-Beverly, Maddie Moats, Destiny Weaver and Ali Wilfong.

Next up, the Bearcat XC program headed to Cabell Midland to take place in the 2022 St. Mary’s Medical Center XC Festival, held on September 3.

And while the boys’ team wouldn’t have enough runners to place in the event, they were well represented by the members competing.

 Veltri, who out of a field of 135 runners, finished in an impressive 21st place, with a time of 18:40.51.

Annon would be the second Bearcat to complete the race, finishing with a time of 19:54.69, and earning a 47th place overall finish, followed by Isner (21:46.78, 86th place) and Royce (26:30.43, 125th place).

When the Lady Cats took to the course, Viani showcased great endurance and pace, finishing with a time of 22:00.77, an interval good enough to place her in 18th overall out of 136 competitors.

Again, Austin was the next Lady Cat to cross the finish line, this time with a time of 23:58.07, landing her in 48th place in the festival.

R. Sipes (25:16.46, 67th place), Cartwright (26:16.80, 78th place), K. Sipes (26:19.76, 79th place), Richards (27:17.32, 85th place) and Greathouse (31:06.98, 115th place) also added to the scoring for the Lady Bearcats, who finished in 10th out of 18 total teams.

The Bearcat Boys would once again find themselves short runners and unable to place in the Chick-fil-A Invitational, that was held this past Saturday in Mineral Wells.

This time, the boys’ team was led by Annon, who outran is fellow Bearcats with a time of 18:04.19. His time propelled him to a lofty position, claiming 36th out of 173 total runners.

Veltri crossed the finish just 25 seconds after Annon, placing 44th with a time of 18:29 even. Isner (21:45.22, 132nd) and Royce (25:20.16, 166th) also represented Grafton on the course.

Pitted against 151 runners in the ladies’ contest, Viani finished strong for the Cats, and her time of 21:30.40 was enough to earn a 26th place finish overall.

Austin completed the race in just 23:03.04, finishing in 47th, while R. Sipes came in 55th overall, with a time of 23:25.52.

The top runners from the Lady Bearcat XC team consisted of Cartwright (24:04.73, 65th place), K. Sipes (25:34.04, 95th place), Richards (26:04.33, 101st place) and Greathouse (28.20.92, 130th place).

And while the Lady Cats finished the day in 12th place, the runners continued to work hard and push their limits.

The Bearcats XC runners will be back in action this Saturday, September 17, when they head to Preston County to participate in the Big 10 Cardinal Conference Challenge. 

© 2022-Mountain Statesman

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