GRAFTON—“At the beginning of the year, I told both of these teams that I thought we had the talent to get to states.”
Those were the words spoken by Grafton Bearcats cross country coach P.D. Louzy soon after his team qualified for the West Virginia Cross Country State Championships two weeks ago at Cabell Midland High School in Ona.
Both the Bearcats boys’ and girls’ teams made the state event after the girls finished third and the boys finished fourth in the A/AA Regional 1 meet at West Taylor Elementary School.
On Saturday, at states, the weather was perfect for running, with clear skies and temperatures in the low 50’s.
The girls’ teams ran first, and Bearcats’ freshman standout Avrie Kelley finished in 20th place (21:05), just missing All-State honors by 35 seconds.
Senior Megan Kisner ran a personal best time of 22:26, finishing in 58th place, while sophomore Meredith Maier (72nd, 23:17), junior Hannah Moats (73rd, 23:23), and freshman Carrie Ellen Richards (95th, 24:20) rounded out the Bearcats’ top five.
Emily Cather (25:58) and Emma Curry (26:30) were #6 and #7, respectively.
The Lady Bearcats finished 11th overall (just three points behind Doddridge County for 10th place), as the 7th place AA team.
A and AA are run together, then the results are split afterwards into separate classes.
“The goal was a Top 10 finish, so being the seventh-best team in AA is a great accomplishment for these young ladies,” said a proud Louzy. “We only lose one senior this year and we have a big class of talented eighth graders coming into the program next year. It should be a fun group to watch.”
On the boys’ side, sophomore Cayden Boylen had another solid race, leading the team with a 62nd place finish (18:21).
Sophomore Ryan Maier (75th, 18:41) was behind Boylen, followed by freshman JT Veltri (79th, 18:44), senior Christopher Loomis (105th, 19:26), and senior Devin Criss (112th, 18:41).
The other scoring runners were sophomore Matthew Helmondollar (129th, 20:06), and his brother James (161st, 22:03). The boys finished 14th overall and 10th in AA.
“To have both teams finish in the Top 10 of AA is a pretty good way to wrap up our season,” stated Louzy. “We lose three seniors from this team, but with what’s coming in and what I’ve got coming back, we should be solid again next year.”
Louzy expressed how proud he is of the program and that what fans saw this weekend is only a glimpse of things to come.
“Hopefully this is the start of a new era for GHS cross country,” added Louzy. “Most of my kids are already talking about training this winter and doing even better next year at the state level. This was a great group of kids to coach and just be around.”