By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
Marion County ran with the best of them Saturday at the state cross country meet at Cabell Midland.
Fairmont Senior boys took third place, East Fairmont girls finished 11th and North Marion’s Taylor Trowbridge crossed the line 30th.
Drew Trefz paced the Polar Bears with a 15th-place time of 17:45. He was followed just behind by Jakeb Van Horn in 24th (17:54), Gage Clemens in 28th (18:01), Zack Linger in 31st (18:09) and Matt Strand in 33rd (18:14).
After winning the state title last year, the Polar Bears put plenty of pressure on themselves to repeat. They were disappointed with the result, even though only two other teams finished ahead of them.
“(Coach Chris Neptune) told us that we did everything we could today,” Strand said. “Other days we could have won second place. But today it just wasn’t our day.”
For the girls,Taylor Trowbridge crossed 30th with a time of 21:43.57.
She kept pace with a pack of the fastest runners and shaved 30 seconds off her time on the same course earlier this season.
“It was really competitive,” she said. “Everyone was really, really fast. It was kind of a shock at first.”
Trowbridge has expressed repeatedly that she wanted to make it to states. The freshman believes the experience will serve her well in the future.
"It was a really good experience. It makes me feel prepared for next year,” she said. “I want to go to states, but I want to place in the top 10 or 15. I'll start soon to get ready for my 2014."
East Fairmont took 11th as a team. Bailey Baker finished first for the Bees. Her time of 23:09 earned her 44th. She was followed by a tightly packed group of Mikayla Moore in 57th (23:53), Cierra Kendal in 61st (24:09), Hannah Pride in 62nd (24:12) and Rachel Ramage in 68th (24:47).
“We would have preferred to have done better. But statistically, that’s probably where we were supposed to finish,” East Fairmont coach Ken Hibbs said. “I think the field was a little bit stronger than in years past.”
The Bees, who Hibbs called a “long shot” to make it to states, turned in one of their best performances of the season at regionals in order to qualify for the state meet for the second straight year.
For the boys, Bridgeport took first overall, behind Abe Merinar’s first-place finish. He crossed the line at 16:21. Philip Barbour also made the podium with a second-place finish.
For the girls, Philip Barbour walked away with the championship and Charleston Catholic took second.
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