By Steve Keenan
OAK HILL —
The Oak Hill High Red Devils will compete today in the Class AAA Region 3 cross country championship race at Cedar Lakes in Ripley.
The girls race will begin at 4:15 p.m. with the boys race to follow at 5 p.m.
“We’re in a tough region and we’ve got some injuries,” said Oak Hill coach George Smith. The boys squad will be without the services of Jacob Ashcraft, who’s sidelined with a quad injury, and the team is also dealing with some sickness.
The Red Devils, Smith feels, have a decent chance to finish in third place in the team competition, which would earn them a state berth. Ripley and Capital are the front-runners, Smith says.
At each of the regional events, individual runners in the Top 10 inclusive advance to the state meet next Saturday at Cabell Midland High School.
If five full teams enter the regional race, two can qualify for states.
Three teams advance if there are 6-9 full squads, and four teams move on if there are 10 or more full entrants on Thursday.
Leading the OHHS boys is junior Cody Gillespie, who is 10th in Class AAA in the www.runwv.com statewide rankings.
The Ripley field will also include, among others, George Washington’s Matthew Brafford, the top-ranked runner, and Greenbrier East’s Levi Snedegar, ranked third.
“Cody can qualify by himself, but I sure would like to get the whole team qualified,” Smith said.
The Red Devil girls will likely field just four competitors — leading runner Sierra Seay, Hannah Fridley, Brianna Baker and Cassidy Greenwood. All have shown improvement in recent weeks, Smith said.
The Class AA-A Region 3 championship will be held at PikeView High School, also Thursday.
Girls action will get under way at 2 p.m., while the boys will leave the starting line at about 2:40 p.m. An awards presentation will be held in the school auditorium beginning at about 3:30 p.m.
The boys race will feature two of the state’s Top 5 runners, according to www.runwv.com. Webster County’s Brettley Harris and PikeView’s Jason Weitzel are ranked third and fourth, respectively, in AA-A.
In Class AA-A Region 4 girls competition, to be staged at Ripley ahead of the triple-A events, Nicholas County’s Aidan Payton enters as the 17th-best runner in the state rankings.