Bearcat XC picks up extra meet, places third overall


GRAFTON— The Grafton High School Cross Country team recently competed in their final two meets of the regular season, turning in strong finishes, as the group prepares for Regionals. 

On Saturday, the team travelled to Apple Valley Golf Course in Fairmont to take part in the Fairmont Senior Invitational with eight Lady Bearcats and four Bearcat men representing Grafton on the course. 

For the Lady Bearcats it would be sophomore Emily Viana crossing the finish line first.

Viani’s finishing time of 22:13 earned her a ninth-place overall finish, while teammate River Sipes would land in 11th with a time of 22:37. 

Rounding out the top five for Grafton were Kevie Sipes (37th, 25:18), Kayla Greathouse (41st, 25:50) and Cheyenne Duncan-Beverly (51st, 27:21).

“All five of these girls are either sophomores or freshmen. Emily and River were the number two and three finishers when compared to runners from our region. They are both seem to be peaking at the right time with Regionals coming up on the 21st,” commented Head Coach PD Louzy. 

Also running for the Lady Bearcats was Destiny Weaver (52nd, 27:24), CE Richards (57th, 28.37) and Caity Boylen (63rd, 30:48). 

While not their best team finish of the season, the Lady Bearcats combined for an average finishing time of 24:39, beating out Nicholas County High School, and finishing in sixth place. 

For the boys,  junior JT Veltri would once again deliver a solid performance, earning another top ten finish on the season. 

With a time of 17:57, Veltri was the first Bearcat to complete the race, and earned an eighth place overall finished out of nearly 100 competitors. 

The second to complete the course on the team was Cayden Boylen (35th, 20:02), followed by Matt Helmondollar (50th, 21:13) and Dominic Beverly (67th, 22:40).  

While the Bearcats didn’t earn placement at the meet, Louzy believes this was just another positive step in preparing the young men for the Big 10 Championship and Regional races ahead. 

“JT has been solid all year and looks to be ready to go for regionals.  Cayden is finally getting healthy, his times are creeping back up to where they should be,” he shared. 

The team added a last-minute meet to their schedule for further post season competition preparation and travelled to Tucker County to run in the Tucker County Invitational, where both the boys and girls would race their way to third place finishes.

“We threw this on the schedule late, just to get another meet in before Big 10 and Regionals.  It was a small meet, but the kids all ran well,” noted Louzy.

And once again, Viani led the Lady Bearcats with an exceptional second place finish for her time of 21:26, followed by R. Sipes in ninth with a time of 23:41.  

Rounding the varsity line up for the Lady Bearcats was K. Sipes (17th, 25:29), Greathouse (18th, 25:51) and Richards (19th, 26:04) all earning back-to-back finishes in the top 20.  

“This was probably CE’s best race to date.  She’s coming on at the right time,” Louzy boasted.  All my top five came home with awards, so it was a nice way to wrap up the regular season.”

Also taking to the course for the Grafton ladies was Duncan-Beverly (22nd, 27:19), Weaver (24th, 27:33), Maddie Moats (27th, 30:05), Boylen (28th, 33:20) and Chole Saltis (29th, 36:37). 

On the boy’s side, the Bearcats would turn in two top ten finishes by Veltri (4th, 18:03) and Boylen (9th, 19:06)

 Also representing Grafton during the meet was Domonic Beverly (26th ,21:15), Matthew Hellmondollar (31st ,22:21) and James Hellmondollar (37th,25:47). 

“Dominic had one of his best races, finishing 26th with a solid time of 21:15,” Louzy said. “Brothers Matt and James Helmondollar finished off my varsity team. James is battling some injuries right now, but he still shows up and gives me what he can.”

The Bearcats will be back on the course on Thursday, October 14 for the Big 10 Championship at Philip Barbour. Then the team will take on Regionals on October 21, on their home course at West Taylor Elementary School.  

“We should be rested and healthy for both of those races,” Louzy remarked.

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