By Steve Keenan
Oak Hill’s Wes Stowers admits to a case of the nerves.
But he also knows he’s done the work necessary to pave the way for success this Saturday at the West Virginia state cross country championships.
Stowers, a senior, will lead the Red Devils into the afternoon Class AAA portion of the meet. The boys Class AA-A race will kick off the meet at 10 a.m. at Cabell Midland High School.
“It’s a big confidence boost to have a fast-paced race (going into the states),” said Stowers, the Region 3 runner-up last Thursday with a 5-kilometer clocking of 16 minutes, 16.70 seconds in Tornado. “I definitely feel a lot stronger than last year.
“I’m pretty nervous. I honestly just want to shoot for the podium (Top 10 and all-state). I’m going out and run my race and hopefully it will be enough to get me in the Top 10.”
Stowers, sixth in Class AA-A last year, and his Red Devil teammates — many of whom were members of the third-place AA-A team a year ago — were second in region team competition last week (45 for Ripley and 61 for Oak Hill) and are the state’s eighth-ranked triple-A team, according to the high school running website, www.runwv.com. He realizes they will face stiff competition Saturday.
Jefferson is the defending champion, and Cabell Midland, led by phenom Jacob Burcham, won in 2009 and 2010. Burcham is back for his senior year.
“We know it’s going to be a heck of a battle,” Stowers said. “I think we have a shot to be in the Top 5 if we all run our best.
“We’ve built up a lot of miles over the summer and the weekends. And we’ve had some quality work — a lot of track work.”
Other OHHS finishers in the region meet included: Cody Gillespie, 6th, 16:57; Tony Tredway, 13th, 17:36.4; Nick Oxendale, 15th, 17:49.6; Joel Bracken, 23rd, 18:30.8; Daniel Pritt, 26th, 18:35.1; and Seth Blake, 50th, 21:45.3.
For the Oak Hill girls, finishers were: Sierra Seay, 20th, 23:26.7; Brianna Baker, 33rd, 26:04.6; and Hannah Fridley, 37th, 26:34.2.
Greenbrier East junior Levi Snedegar and Shady Spring senior Tyler Kosut are among the other Class AAA boys challengers heading into this weekend.
Saturday’s schedule is as follows: 10 a.m. — Boys AA-A; 10:45 a.m. — Girls AA-A; 11:45 a.m. — AA-A awards; 1 p.m. — Boys AAA; 1:45 p.m. — Girls AAA; and 2:30 p.m. — AAA awards.
Admission will be $8 for adults and $7 for students.
In addition to the Jefferson boys, other defending champs are the Philip Barbour boys and girls in AA-A and the Morgantown girls in Class AAA.
According to the WVSSAC’s Butch Powell, special recognition this year will go to Scott High School’s John Porter as boys coach of the year and Philip Barbour’s Missy Kaiser as girls coach of the year.
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