GRAFTON—The last time both of the Grafton Bearcats cross country teams made the state track meet was ten years ago.
After a fantastic performance at West Taylor Elementary School on Thursday in the A/AA Region 1 meet, both of the Bearcats teams are now headed to the 2019 State Championships held at Cabell Midland High School in Ona.
“Man, what a day,” said Grafton head coach P.D. Louzy. “So proud of what my kids did yesterday.”
The Bearcat girls’ team finished third (second in AA) out of 13 complete teams while the boys finished fifth (fourth in AA) out of 16 complete teams.
The girls raced first, and the Bearcats knew that with limited spots available to qualify for states, they had their work cut out for them.
“We knew coming in that only three AA schools would advance to states,” Louzy explained. “We knew that we were probably not going to compete with Fairmont Senior. So the goal was to grab that third spot. It was going to come down to us, Philip Barbour, East Fairmont, and Frankfort.”
Grafton would finish with 146 points to claim the second AA spot, followed by East Fairmont with 148 points to grab the third and final spot, while Philip Barbour finished fourth with 150 points, just missing qualifying as a team. Ultimately, four points separated the three teams.
GHS freshman Avrie Kelley grabbed seventh place (21:23) to earn 1st-Team All-Region honors. She was followed by sophomore Meredith Maier (23:11), senior Megan Kisner (23:18), junior Hannah Moats (24:17), and sophomore Emily Cather (24:44).
“We knew it was going to be a tall task as one of my top two runners is dealing with a bad case of tendonitis,” stated Louzy. “Kendra (Rogucki) pretty much ran the race with one good leg. Her teammates were up to the task and we actually grabbed the second AA spot from our region. What’s also impressive here is both Megan and Hannah knocked over four minutes off of their times from a month ago at our home meet on the same course.”
On the boys’ side, sophomore Cayden Boylen turned in the race of his life, finishing 14th with an outstanding time of 17:48. That finish was good enough to grab 2nd Team All-Region honors. He was followed by sophomore Ryan Maier (18:01) in 21st place, freshman JT Veltri (18:12), sophomore Matthew Helmondollar (19:20), and senior Christopher Loomis (19:23).
The top 24 runners for the boys qualified for the state meet, while the top 19 for the girls qualified. Boylen, Maier, and Kelley would have still made the state meet as individuals had their two teams not qualified.
“What a great day for GHS cross country,” said an excited Louzy. “We’ll load up next Friday morning and head south. We race on Saturday and we’ll see if we can make some noise down there.”