By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
Marion County will be well represented at next week’s state meet at Cabell Midland High School.
The Fairmont Senior boys’ team, East Fairmont girls’ team and North Marion’s Taylor Trowbridge all advanced after their performances in the qualifier Thursday at Mineral Wells.
Fairmont Senior’s boys’ team finished first in the team component with a score of 61. Jacob Van Horn finished sixth overall to lead the Polar Bears with a time of 17:21. He was followed just behind by Matt Strand. His time of 17:40 earned him 10th place.
Zack Linger took 17th (18:12), while Drew Trefz finished 18th (18:13) and Justin Okel crossed 21st (18:23) to round out the top 5 for the Polar Bears.
In coach Chris Neptune’s nine seasons as the coach of the Polar Bears, his teams have qualified for states all nine times. He said expectations are a major reason for the consistency.
“I always expect us to be up there,” he said. “And I’ve always had good groups of kids, and they’ve made that a goal of theirs.”
The East Fairmont girls’ team will join Fairmont Senior at Cabell Midland next weekend. The Bees earned third overall to qualify.
Most teams that qualified had one or two runners place in the top 10. But the Bees ran as a team, finishing just a minute apart to punch their ticket to states.
Bailey Baker led the pack. She finished 14th with a 22:11.
Baker was followed by Mikayla Moore in 19th (22:26), Cierra Kendall in 29th (23:02), Hannah Pride in 30th (23:08) and Rachel Ramage in 31st (23:11).
East Fairmont girls’ cross country coach Ken Hibbs said that all of his runners turned in their best race of the season Thursday.
“Early on in the season, I told them if they could get within two minutes of each other, we’d do pretty well,” Hibbs said. “This best I’ve ever had five runners do (at staying together).”
North Marion’s Taylor Trowbridge also qualified for the state meet. Her time of 21:10 earned her an eighth place finish.
As a team, North Marion’s girls took ninth overall. Kailee Latocha (34, 23:26), Josie Jones (40, 23:30) and Emily Maddow (48, 24:08) also finished in the top 50.
Fairmont Senior was just behind in 10th. Bethany McPherson (23, 22:48) and JoMarie Bogard (37, 23:29) finished in the top 50.
For the boys, East Fairmont finished sixth with 175 points. Jacob Morris led the Bees with a time of 18:10 to take 16th. Jacob Nuzum took 31st (18:44), Mason Weese crossed 36th (18:53), Isaac Flohr was 41st (19:03) and Patrick Friend was 75th (21:31) to round of the Bees’ top 5.
North Marion boys finished two spots behind in eighth. Richard Stalnaker led the team with a 27th-place finish (18:37). Alex Myers was 37th (18:54), Fred Harrison claimed 46th (19:28), Robert Burkett was just behind in 47th 19:34) and Frankie Thomas crossed 69th (20:56) to round out the Huskies’ top 5.
Email Mike DeFabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.