GHS XC season concludes with strong performances at state meet by Viani and Veltri

Coaches PD Louzy and Cari Moats take a quick pic with state qualifiers JT Veltri and Emily Viani. (Photo courtesy of Coach PD Louzy)

GRAFTON—The Grafton High School (GHS) Bearcat Cross Country came to a close with two runners attending the state meet held at Cabell-Midland High School.

With hope of a top ten finish, junior Emily Viani took to the field of runners for Grafton during the meet. And although she ran within the top ten of the pack during most of the race, she would fall just short of finishing with them.

 Viani showcased determination, endurance and athleticism during the meet and claimed an impressive 17-place overall finish, with a time of 21:45.85, an improvement from her 22nd place finish at last year’s event.

Her hard work paid off and this year’s finish earned her a Second-Team All-State honor, something she and her coaches should be more than proud of.

“We knew she would have to go out faster than normal to try and accomplish the top 10 finish.  She hung right around the top ten for most of the race, but faded a little at the end,” shared Head Coach PD Louzy. “She gave everything she had today, and we are so proud of her. When all was said and done, she still was happy with where she finished.”

Louzy revealed that Viani was his top female runner all year long, and he looks forward to seeing what she will do this spring during track season.

“We will condition through the winter,” he noted. “Our goal for the upcoming track season is to not only see her competing at the state level but improving on her fourth-place finish in the 800 from last spring’s state track meet.”

Viani was joined at the state cross country meet by Senior JT Veltri, who has been a standout runner during his tenure as a Bearcat. 

“JT just missed qualifying for the state meet his sophomore and junior year,” Louzy revealed. “So, for him to be competing this year was a great accomplishment!”

Veltri set his eyes on the state meet long before the season started and began putting in work throughout the summer and fall to earn his bid to the race.  And while it was not the finish he had hoped for to round out his cross country running career for GHS, Veltri crossed the finish line with a time of 18:14, earning him a 29th place overall finish, still an impressive feat.

“It may not have been the finish we had hope for, but he left what he had on the course, for sure,” Louzy expressed. “We will definitely miss his leadership next season.  I’m looking forward to watching him on the hardwood this winter.”

 With the state meet now over, the GHS cross country season has officially come to an end, but Louzy is already looking toward next fall’s team.

“Overall, I was pleased with the group of kids I had this season. They really gave all they had, and it showed,” he voiced. “I’ll have a great group coming back next fall, and I am excited to see how they take to the course.”

Touting a young team this season, the Bearcats will see the return of almost the entire female varsity roster. For the male side of things, Louzy shared he will be returning three veteran runners, who will lead the way for new Bearcat runners.

And to ensure that everyone stays in shape and ready for the fall, the cross country runners will shift from running over hills and through creeks to taking to the track.

“They all will be running track in the spring, and hopefully that will catapult us into a solid summer of training in preparations for next fall,” Louzy said.

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