Midland boys, Hurricane girls win region cross country titles
It's quite possible that during the course of a meet, Cabell Midland boys and girls cross country coach Chris Parsons logs more miles than his kids as he runs all over the course barking instructions and encouragement at his runners.
While Parsons got around the acreage at Meadowood Park in Tornado pretty quickly on Thursday, so did both of Midland's teams.
The Knights' boys team dominated the field en route to the Class AAA Region 4 championship while the girls finished second behind Hurricane, also notching a berth into the state meet scheduled for Oct. 27 at Cabell Midland High School.
The top three teams in each of the boys and girls competitions made the state meet field as well as the top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team.
"Not only did we qualify, they qualified pretty strong," Parsons said. "I was pleased with the girls and the boys. When you can run like that nine days before the state meet, we're anxious to see what happens next Saturday."
The Midland boys team feels like it has some unfinished business after just falling short to Jefferson at last year's state meet.
If the goal was to make an early statement on Thursday, it was mission accomplished as all seven of Midland's runners finished in the top eight, including the top three.
The onslaught was unsurprisingly led by two-time defending state champion Jacob Burcham, who finished in 15:18.2, a little over 57 seconds faster than the Knights' Avery Campbell.
The senior's accolades list is as long as it is impressive spanning the course of his prep career, but for now he is focused on winning a team championship and earning a little redemption from last year.
"We wanted to go out and have the whole team finish up near the front," Burcham said. "Our team did really well. [A state title has] been our goal since freshman year. We didn't do so hot last year, but we definitely want to come back and finish on a good note. Five of our top seven are seniors, so I'm sure it means a lot to everybody."
While not quite as dominating, the Hurricane girls team placed all seven of its runners in the top 14 and ran away with a win as well.
Junior Tori Dent cleared Winfield's Brittney McMillion by 23-plus seconds to earn the individual championship, following in the footsteps of former Hurricane standouts Alex Dent and Josie Crouch.
"The upperclassmen were around when Josie Crouch was around and Tori's sister [Alex]," Hurricane coach Bill Posey said. "They understand that in order to get to that level you have to jump through a few hoops. It may not come fast, it may take a couple of years, but these girls were willing to continually spend time in the summers and offseason doing the things they needed to do to improve and that's why they've been able to evolve."
Tori Dent finished seventh in last year's state meet, and Posey believes she has the potential for bigger things this year and next.
"It's hard to tell in cross country because courses very," Posey said. "On the track she's right in there with [Alex Dent and Crouch]. As a sophomore she was really impressive for a kid that age, but like anything else, in running you have to continue to work hard, and then harder, and then the hardest in order to be a state champion, ranked in the nation and all that stuff. It's there, but it's up to her if she wants to obtain that and I think she understands that."
Joining the Knights and Hurricane at the state meet will be the Winfield girls, who finished solidly the third place. First-year coach Ashleigh Winter said making an appearance at the state meet is a great accomplishment for her girls.
"I am really proud of the girls for their hard work this season," Winter said. "I'm very excited to see them run at the state meet."
The Redskins also finished second on the boys side while Huntington took the final boys qualifying spot.
Individual boys qualifiers are Stone Bellomy, Winfield (10th), Jacob Henley, St. Albans (11th), R.J. Weiford, Winfield (15th), Wyatt Browder, St. Albans (19th), Richard Roda, Winfield (20th), Tony Salgado, Winfield (21st), DeSean Williams, Winfield (22nd), Eric Johns, Winfield (23rd), Brian Gray, Winfield (24th) and Caleb Riffle, Point Pleasant (25th).
Individual girls qualifiers were Andrea Porter, Point Pleasant (7th), Kayla Criswell, Spring Valley (16th), Jillian Clemens, Nitro (18th), Audrey McFarland, Huntington (23rd), Savannah Macgregor, Huntington (24th), Sarah West, St. Albans (25th), Shelby Bellomy, Spring Valley (26th), Madison Albert, St. Albans (28th), Kassidy Presley, Nitro (30th) and Elizabeth McCusky, St. Albans (31st).
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.