Four Bearcat XC Runners earn recognitions at Big 10

Photo courtesy of Coach PD Lousy

GRAFTON—The Grafton High School Cross Country program is prepping for regional action after competing in the Big 10 Championships last week, where four runners received special recognitions.

The Lady Bearcats entered the Big 10 meet full of hope, after coming off an impressive win at the 2022 Elk River Trail Invitational. However, the ladies found themselves struggling to outrun the competition, and placed 11th at the event.

 It would be the team from Preston High School that claimed victory at the event, followed by Buckhannon-Upshur in second, Fairmont Senior in third, Philip Barbour in fourth, Liberty in fifth, North Marion in sixth, East Fairmont in seventh, Robert C. Byrd in eighth, Elkins in ninth and Bridgeport in tenth.

Teams from Lewis County and Lincoln also competed, but due to incomplete rosters, they were unable to place during the event.

It was Emily Viani who crossed the finish line first for the Lady Cats, with a time of 20:50.5, earning her a 10th place overall finish.

“Because of her standing, Emily earned First-Team All-Conference honor,” said Head Coach PD Louzy.

He shared that he is sure the team would have had a better placement, had it not been for injury.

“We ran without my usual #3, Natalee Cartwright, who is battling some tendonitis,” he revealed. “If she runs, we probably finish mid-pack, which is about right for us.”

“I told the girls that the big race is tomorrow. The goal for the season is to always peak at regionals,” he added. “So, for the Big 10, I always tell my teams to make sure they come out on the other side healthy.”

On the boys side of things, with a full roster, the Bearcats placed sixth out of 12 teams, perhaps the highest placement the program has seen in a long time, according to Louzy.

Buckhannon-Upshur claimed first, while Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont came in second and third, followed by Lewis County in fourth and Elkins in fifth.

Following the Cats’ sixth place finish were North Marion in seventh, Bridgeport in eighth, Preston finishing nineth, Lincoln in tenth, Liberty in eleventh and Robert C. Byrd in twelfth.

Philip Barbour also sent runners to the Big 10, but due to an incomplete team, they were unable to place.

JT Veltri cruised passed the finish with a time of 18:08.1, earning him a 9th place overall finish, and claimed First Team All-Conference Honors.

“JT may have run the best race he’s ever run for me in the four years I’ve coached him,” voiced Louzy. “And he certainly led his team to a solid 6th place finish!”

But it wouldn’t just be Veltri who earned recognition during the Big 10. Freshman Colson Annon (18:37.5, 16th place) and sophomore MJ Niggemyer (19.06, 21st place) also performed well and claimed Second Team All-Conference Honors.

“Colson is coming on at the right time, and this was MJ’s first race back since an injury at the end of August,” Louzy noted. “So, all three of these guys are peaking at the right time!”

Determined to see success still this season, Louzy’s goal is to stay focused on the race ahead, as they prepare for the regional meet tomorrow, hosted by the Bearcats.

“I’ve got a couple kids a little banged up, but we’ll turn them loose and see what happens,” Louzy added.

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