CLARKSBURG— Twelve Cross Country teams were represented during the Robert C. Byrd Flying Eagle Invitational on Saturday. Despite facing some tough competition, performances by Grafton High School runners led both teams to finish within the top five.
The girls were first to hit the 5K course, in what would end up being a tight and competitive race.
The Lady Bearcats were once again led by sophomore Emily Viani, who finished the trail with a time of 22:03 and placed 6th overall out of 61 female runners. Viani is also currently ranked 19th in the state for Class AA Girls Rankings.
Also landing in good placement for the Grafton ladies was River Sipes, who came in 19th with a time of 23:46, followed by her fellow Lady Bearcat and sister Kevie Sipes, who landed at 26th for her finishing time of 25:33.
Of the six girls’ teams, Grafton placed 6th with a team score of 86, just head of the 87 scored by Philip Barbour. Taking the victory for the meet was the Liberty team with a score of 69.
In second place was Elkins (77), followed by East Fairmont (79) in third and Tucker County High School (83) in fourth.
“When we go to these meets, I always look at where we finished compared to teams in our region,” explained head coach PD Louzy. “East Fairmont got us by seven, and we just finished ahead of Philip Barbour by one. We are closing the gap on East. We competed today without my number five runner, so I am pleased with our performance.”
On the boy’s side of the meet, the Bearcats did fare a little better than the ladies, earning an overall third place finish with a team total of 106, thanks in part to an outstanding performance from seasoned competitor JT Veltri.
East Fairmont took the win for the boys with a score of 24, while Elkins (63) came in second, Philip Barbour (128) in fourth, followed by Roane County (141), Trinity Christian (145), Tucker County (151) and South Harrison (155).
“JT had probably the best race he’s run for me in the three years I’ve coached him,” Louzy voiced.
Vetri placed third overall individually, with a time of 17:48, just missing the second-place spot by less than half a second.
Bearcat Matthew Helmondollar also had a strong race, finishing 21st with a time of 21:33.
Senior Cayden Boylen ran his first race of the season following an injury that he continues to battle and still managed to place 25th (21:44).
With two weeks until the team races again, coach Louzy shared that the gap will give Boylen some needed recovery time and that he should be at 100 percent for the next meet.
“Overall, it was a good day for both teams. Our next race will be the Chick-Fil-A Invitational in Mineral Wells. It’s one of the bigger meets in the state. We’ll see where we measure up after that one,” Louzy imparted.
Individual Lady Bearcat stats: Emily Viani (22:03), River Sipes (23:46), Kevie Sipes (25:33), Kayla Greathouse (26:43), Cheyenne Duncan-Beverly (27:30), Carrie Ellen Richards (30:05), Destiny Weaver (30:35), Jada Johnson (32:26), Caity Boylen (33:00).
Individual Bearcat stats: JT Veltri (17:48), Matthew Helmondollar (21:33), Cayden Boylen (21:44), Dominic Beverly (23:18), James Helmondollar (23:41).