Former Oak Hill High cross-country standout Dan Stowers is now guiding the Red Devils' cross-country program, and he says things have gone well so far this school year.
Stowers, who coached the Collins Middle School team in recent years and has assisted with the high school track and field and cross-country programs during that time, stepped into the head high school cross-country job when veteran head coach George Smith resigned over the summer. So, he's now supervising both levels.
"It's been smooth," Stowers said last week. "I've helped George the last 10 or 12 years.
"It was always seamless; we always worked together anyway."
The Oak Hill high school and middle school teams opened their seasons in the Chick-fil-A Beckley Invitational on Aug. 24, and they are set to participate in the Nicholas County Battle Run Lake Invitational on Sept. 14 and the Westside Invitational on Sept. 17.
About the high school program, Stowers said, "The guys, I was pleasantly surprised with how well they've come along. They didn't do a whole lot during the summer, but they've raced well.
"With Seth (Crosier) coming back, that's a big plus for us." As of last week, Crosier, a senior, was ranked No. 23 in the www.runwv.com Class AA-A boys individual statewide list. He placed 31st in the 2018 state meet.
The efforts of freshman Austin Bias are "going to be huge for us, too," said Stowers. "I expect him to get a lot better as the season goes."
Returning runners such as Lane Jordan and Zane Wolfe have shown improvement, and Ethan Walker, who came over from Fayetteville, has been a solid addition.
"Right now, they're pretty competitive in our region," he said of the boys team.
The high school girls will see a tougher road, as only two runners — Ashlyn Treadway and Kaitlyn Baker — are competing. "We were hoping to pick up a few soccer girls, but we didn't," Stowers said.
The middle school girls are "incredible," he said. "They're really competitive."
Kyndall Ince and Olivia Honaker are "absolutely tearing it up," their coach said. Other competitors such as Jordyn Floyd and Nancy Cline help flesh out a strong nucleus. "If they stay together as a group through high school, people will know who they are."
The boys middle school team is inexperienced, comprised mainly of sixth-graders seeing their first action.
The school's annual invitational in early September had to be canceled due to ongoing work on the new campus.
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