MORGANTOWN — Preston Excessive cross nation coach Paul Martin has led groups within the space for the previous 27 years, and 2023 is likely to be his most unusual marketing campaign to this point.
4 of the highest 5 ladies runners are sisters.
There’s junior Hallie Simmons, alongside with freshman Ava Simmons, in addition to twin sophomores Autumn Myers and Delilah Myers.
“It’s a really cool expertise,” Hallie Simmons stated. “I began aggressive working in sixth grade, however I’ve at all times cherished to run and keep energetic. I didn’t should encourage my youthful sister to get entangled with it both, she did it on her personal.”
And in her first 12 months on the varsity degree, Ava Simmons is prospering.
“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t certain of what to anticipate,” Ava Simmons stated. “I’m very shocked. I’ve been blessed with a really profitable season and hope that I proceed to enhance. I’ve objectives to make it to state all 4 years.”
Final 12 months, the Preston ladies did not qualify for the state match for the primary time in many years. The Knights are comfortable to be again this 12 months after a third-place end on the Class AAA Area I meet.
The state championships are on Saturday in Ona.
“This has been a really gratifying season,” Hallie Simmons stated. “It damage not qualifying for states final 12 months, but it surely was an expertise that I discovered from. It additionally helped me respect qualifying for states this 12 months that rather more — particularly with the ability to do it with my group.”
The Preston group can also be comprised of senior chief Ella White, sophomore Hannah Liston and freshman Leighton Biermann. The ladies have fashioned a powerful bond by working collectively and likewise hanging out exterior of apply.
For the twins, they’ve at all times been coaching companions but in addition take pleasure in tenting, swimming, kayaking and enjoying badminton. They wish to hold observe of who wins races between them.
“We’re aggressive with one another,” Delilah Myers stated. “Again in center faculty, we did attempt to beat one another, and it was a contest inside a contest, however now in highschool, we focus extra on working our personal races than racing one another.”
They began their cross nation journey a number of years in the past by becoming a member of a program known as Women on the Run.
“We’ve extra similarities than variations,” Autumn Myers stated. “We at all times practice collectively and we run about the identical tempo. We do every thing in our lives collectively since we like a variety of the identical issues.”
Martin stated the women’ group set three objectives for this season. One was to win the Massive Ten Convention championship. Preston did that on Oct. 12. One other was to qualify for the state meet. Preston did that on Oct. 19.
Now, the Knights hope to complete within the prime 4 locations on the state meet.
“It would take an astonishing effort, however I do know these ladies will at all times attempt their finest and can go away all of it out on the course,” Martin stated. “This is among the finest groups I’ve ever coached.”
There may be additionally the distinctiveness on the boys’ aspect.
Junior Damian Rumer ran a 16:30.95 at regionals to return in eleventh place. By means of a mathematical components, and with an help from Martin’s nephew Coen Thomas, who joined the group to fill out the roster, Rumer is working Saturday, representing Preston as a person.
Morgantown, Trinity Christian and College additionally certified for the state meet.
Each the Trinity boys’ and ladies’ groups received the OVAC 1A-2A championships earlier than ending in second place to Doddridge County within the Class A Area II meet.
“It’s been one other thrilling and memorable season for the Trinity Christian cross nation groups, and I’ve been blessed to have the ability to coach them this 12 months,” stated Trinity coach John Barnett. “They work extraordinarily arduous, and I’ve seen enchancment in each runner. One factor that has been very particular this 12 months is the group unity. Everybody encourages one another by each exercise. It doesn’t matter if it’s the boys’ group encouraging the women or vice versa.
The boys’ group consists of Miles Steptoe, who was the fourth-place particular person qualifier and faculty document holder, Robert Kincaid, Hamilton Breakey, Ethan Tomlinson, Chase Livengood, Ben Akers and Bryson Sanders.
The ladies’ group consists of Jenna Barnett, the fifth-place particular person qualifier. who broke her personal faculty document this 12 months by greater than 30 seconds, Tori Hovatter, Kylie Cline, Brianna Blake, Caelyn Unger, Amelia Fisher, Katherine Kincaid and Religion Perry.
“The real look after one another and desirous to see everybody succeed, whether or not you’re the primary one in or the final, has been superb,” Barnett stated. “I believe that could be a massive purpose we have now seen success this 12 months.”
The Morgantown ladies’ group is on the lookout for their fourth-straight state championship after successful each OVACs and regionals this season.
“This group has grown and are available collectively as a group all through this season,” MHS coach Mike Ryan stated. “It’s been a optimistic expertise and we’re grateful to have the chance to compete on Saturday.”
Lady qualifiers embody freshmen Megyn Amsler, Ryleigh Freshour, Lauren Hawkins, Allison Hawkins; sophomore Olivia Riley; juniors Maraid Johnson, Sophie Renner, Sophia Schneider and seniors Madeline Gump and Jennifer O’Palko.
The Mohigan boys’ group final received a state title in 2017. This 12 months, they positioned second at OVACs and regionals.
Boy qualifiers are freshmen Maxwell Abildso, Joaquin Summers; sophomore James Stacy; juniors Donald Adjeroh, Andrew Carlton, Finlay Lorimer, Caleb Younger and seniors Quinn Mudry, Duncan Snyder and Zachary Workman.
The College groups are additionally mainstays on the highest degree within the state. The boys’ group enters at this time with an OVAC and regional title below their belt.
“The girls and boys groups have been working very nicely within the month of October,” UHS coach Ed Frohnapfel stated. “Progress has been proven by each groups in each the OVAC championship races and the Area I AAA races. We’re trying ahead to racing on the state championships once more this 12 months.”
Drew Zundell, who will run at Syracuse subsequent 12 months, leads the Hawk boys after a person OVAC and regional title.
Tyler Umbright, Jake West, Ethan Conroy, Logan Conroy, Gavin Whorton and Jack Overfield spherical out the boys’ group.
Abby Rogers received the regional championship and is joined by fellow UHS ladies Adelyn Tager, Claire von Boetticher, Sophia Bell, Izzy West, Shatyra Turner and Haley Kramer.
Clay-Battelle’s Wyatt Sharpless may even compete on the state meet after making it as a person qualifier.
BY MATTHEW PEASLEE