The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.


November 3, 2013

Webster leads cross country competitors; Gillespie finishes 33rd for Oak Hill

ONA — Not known for a strong distance running pedigree year in and year out, Webster County High School competitors nonetheless made their mark at Saturday’s state cross country championships.

Three Webster runners achieved all-state status based on their performances in the afternoon portion of the championship meet at Cabell Midland High School.

Junior Brettley Harris, an all-state performer a year ago, moved up from sixth in 2012 to second in 2013, covering the 5-kilometer course in 16 minutes, 27.72 seconds to finish behind only Bridgeport’s Abe Merinar (16:20.05) in the Class AA-A boys ranks. Harris’ teammate, sophomore Austin Hayes (17:13.35), placed 10th to secure all-state honors, too. And, not to be left out of the party, the Highlanders’ Samantha Stout ran the 3.1-mile course in 20:22.44 to grab sixth place and all-state status.

“It’s a pretty exciting day to be a Highlander,” said Webster County coach Steven Nutter. “We had three first-team all-staters, and the first Webster (cross country) girl ever.”

“It feels pretty good,” Harris said of his runner-up effort. Eyeing a Top 3 finish, he said he led the race for the first mile before Merinar closed the gap and took control. “He ran a great race,” Harris said.

Nutter said Harris ran “an excellent race.” He also praised the running of Hayes, a performer in his first year who exceeded pre-race predictions by 10 spots, and Stout, who spends more of her time as a Webster cheerleader and “wasn’t on anybody’s radar.”

Finishing sandwiched exactly halfway between Harris and Hayes in sixth place in AA-A was PikeView junior Jason Weitzel (16:46.43).

“My main goal was to get all-state (Top 10),” said Weitzel, who placed 12th last year and 13th as a freshman. “I would have liked for my time to be faster, but it was pretty good for today (due to sloppy, windy conditions).”

A few spots behind Stout in the girls race was Nicholas County sophomore Aidan Payton (12th, 20:55.66).

“I felt really good,” said Payton, who turned in a personal best time. “I was in 17th until 2 miles, then I passed some girls.

“I’m very satisfied.”

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