By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
It was a cool, crisp, foggy morning at Preston High School, and all the kids were running.
The Big 10 Cross Country Championship saw two Marion County runners receive all-conference awards as Taylor Trowbridge of North Marion and Jakeb Van Horn of Fairmont Senior finished eighth and seventh in their respective races.
When the girls’ race kicked off, fog covered the course. But it didn’t stop Alicia Parsons and Montanna Garrett of Grafton High School from jumping out to a strong lead.
By race’s end, the freshman tandem finished as a one-two punch, with Parsons claiming the top spot for the race and being named Runner of the Year.
Parsons said this race was harder than most during the season because there’s more on the line, but she still felt confident coming in.
“I like to log minutes instead of miles,” Parsons said. “It’s pretty important (to have Garrett finish behind so close behind) with regionals coming up.”
Parsons’ time was well ahead of any other competitor in the girls’ race as she logged a 20:09 .
Trowbridge, who has been logging solid finishes all season, continued her streak and reached yet another goal as she took home eighth in the race.
“It was very important. That’s all I wanted,” Trowbridge said of her top-10 finish. “I wanted to get my time in a certain range and to get my top 10. And I got them both where I wanted.”
Overall, Philip Barbour took home the win as a team for the girls.
“They ran a good race. They’re getting closer and closer coming in as a team,” Philip Barbour coach Melissa Kaiser said. “Heading into the next three weeks, it’s good to get a good race under our belts so it doesn’t make next week seem so far away. It definitely gives them confidence.”
East Fairmont led the county as a team, placing fifth overall.
“Our next race is regionals, so we should have a strong meet before we get there,” East’s Hannah Pride said.
While some girls said the race was sort of a training race for the next step, freshman Bailey Baker said she used the race as a motivator for regionals.
“It’d be pretty important to get to regionals as a freshman,” she said. “I take it pretty serious.”
After East, North Marion placed sixth and Fairmont Senior placed ninth.
Medalists for the girls were Parsons (20:09), Garrett (21:11), Marissa Long (PB, 21:16), Lindsay Schefel (Preston, 21:45), Lavania LeMasters (RCB, 21:56), Laura Dean (BU, 21:59), Rachel Fulks (Bridgeport, 22:15), Trowbridge (22:22), Hannah Ramirez (Liberty, 22:27), Allison Villers (PB, 22:39) and Gillian Ross (BU, 22:42).
On the boys’ side, Bridgeport dominated the race, placing six runners in the top 10 and taking home the overall title.
Senior Abe Merinar edged out Elkins’ Austin Hamrick by 0.12 seconds to earn Runner of the Year honors.
“The number two ranked team in the state, Fairmont Senior, was here, so it was pretty important to perform like we did,” Merinar said of his team’s performance. “I’m coming off a very bad race at Great American, so to come in and have a good day today and to have a good workout heading into regionals will really help my confidence.”
Fairmont Senior took third as a team with Van Horn leading the way with his seventh-place finish after recording a time of 17:40.
After Fairmont Senior, North Marion placed sixth and East Fairmont placed eighth.
Medalists for the boys were Merinar (16:43), Hamrick (16:55), Matt Dearth (Bridgeport, 16:56), Matt Wallace (Elkins, 17:08), Colin Radabaugh (Preston, 17:29), Scott Nesland (PB, 17:35), Van Horn (17:40), Arryn Tennant (Bridgeport, 18:02), Troy Pallay (Bridgeport, 18:06), Zachary Abbott (Bridgeport, 18:14) and Dalton Hamrick (Elkins, 18:22).
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.