Hurricane-Winfield cross country rivalry strong
HURRICANE, W.Va. -- In order for a rivalry to be truly healthy, it never hurts if both teams are good and pretty evenly matched.
Such is the case in the world of cross country, where Putnam County rivals Winfield and Hurricane find both their boys and girls teams ranked among the top seven Class AAA teams in the state according to www.runwv.com.
Those squads met head to head Saturday morning at the Hurricane Invitational at Wave Pool Park.
The Redskins' Tori Dent finished in 20:23.7 to win the girls race by more than 19 seconds as Hurricane claimed the top spot, edging Winfield 26-30. On the boys side, Winfield placed three of the top four runners to capture first place 28-32 over Hurricane.
Buffalo's Hayden Harrison edged Winfield's R.J. Weiford by less than two seconds with a time of 17:22.9 to win boys individual honors.
It's game on the rest of the season for the rival schools.
"The funny thing is, these girls from both Hurricane and Winfield have known each other their whole lives," Winfield girls coach Kelsey Spang said. "They know the girls not only as people but as runners, so they know exactly what to look out for and who to look out for and I think it's a healthy rivalry. Hurricane-Winfield has always been a rivalry, but when it comes down to running on the course it gets exciting."
Dent, who finished seventh in the state meet as a sophomore, has been bothered by Achilles problems and was running just her third race of her senior season on Saturday. She may just now be rounding into form but she said her team has carried on well without her and that Hurricane has a bright future this season.
"I am so proud of how my team has done this season," Dent said. "Even without me there they've stayed strong. They push hard, we have a really strong team this year and I think we can do big things."
Hurricane's girls are ranked No. 2 by runwv and Winfield is one spot behind at No. 3.
On the boys side, the Generals come in at No. 5 with Hurricane at No. 7.
For the Winfield boys team, the future may be even brighter as just one senior, fifth-place Richard Roda, finished among the top 10 runners.
Winfield coach Shawn Anderson said his team makes up for its lack of experience with a strong work ethic.
"We're young but they're probably the hardest-working bunch of kids I've had up to this point, especially the incoming freshman," the third-year coach said. "From day one, they've bought into the program and they've just been working their butts off. It's a pleasure to coach them."
Jason Henley is listed as the boys cross country coach for the Redskins and also handles the training and coaching of the girls while listed head coach Kelly Allen shares in the administration of the team. Henley saw strong efforts from both of his teams and is happy where they stand thus far.
"The guys team had never qualified for a state championship before last year and we qualified for our first one, went in ranked 11th and finished seventh," Henley said. "Our hopes coming into this year was for a top-5 finish in states and I feel we're on track for that. The girls team is a perennial top-2, top-3 team and we're just maintaining that. We've got an awesome cast of girls, they're strong, they're fit and they're not willing to just let it fold, so I'm pleased with the way both groups are."
Not to be forgotten is Buffalo's Harrison, who is trying to continue a strong showing in distance running for the Bison over the last handful of seasons. The sophomore is No. 6 in Class AA-A in runwv.com's individual rankings, but he will have to pick up the pace to reach his personal goal at the state meet.
"I want to finish with a 15:53," Harrison said. "That's just a number I have set in mind."
Huntington, Point Pleasant, and South Charleston rounded out the team standings in boys while Scott finished third to complete the team standings in girls.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.