Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
Cross-country action came to West Union High School in a big way on Tuesday, Aug. 30 as the Dragons hosted the annual Dragon Run. No less than 187 junior high and high school runners, girls and boys, from nine different schools, gathered to compete for medals, pride, and the quest for personal best times. Besides the host Dragons, teams from Manchester, Lynchburg, Peebles, Whiteoak, East Clinton, North Adams, Portsmouth Notre Dame and Fayetteville were on hand.
It was a big day for many of the Adams County teams and runners as the county produced three individual champions and three team champions on the day. For the Hounds, McKenzie Morrison, Kelsey Friend, and Ethan Pennywitt were individual champions, while teams from Manchester, West Union, and North Adams all took home team titles.
The afternoon got underway with 35 junior high girls making their way to the start line, located near one end of the West Union soccer field. The outcome of this race was never really in doubt as Manchester eighth grader McKenzie Morrison took control of the event, and won with a time of 14:06 around the two-mile course, topping second place Raelynn Ruble of Whiteoak, who finished at 14:35.
The top 10 finishers in each of the four races on the day were awarded medals as they cross the finish line and placing third in the junior high girls race was Peebles’ Katy Seas (15:26). Whiteoak’s Ann Ames was fourth (15:39), with Ainsley Grooms of North Adams capturing fifth (15:48). Sixth place went to West Union’s Kendra Grooms (15:53), seventh to Alyssa Mays of North Adams (15:58), eighth to West Union’s Adelyn Shupert (16:07), ninth to Notre Dame’s Lindsey Blau (16:24), and the final medal in 10th place to Peebles’ Josie Chamblin (16:47). County schools had three runners who barely missed being medalists with West Union’s Katie Fulton finishing 11th, North Adams’ Maleia Eldridge 12th, and Joy Nelms from West Union 13th.
When the team scores were tallied, it was Whiteoak taking the junior high girls title with their low combined places that added up to a winning 43. West Union was second at 48.
Next up was the junior high boys race, with 53 young men stepping to the start line. When runners began crossing the finish line after the two-mile jaunt, it was Lynchburg’s Harrison Burge taking the top spot with a time of 14:02. Second place went to Trenton McCann of North Adams with a time of 14:07, with McCann’s teammate Damon Baker getting third at 14:23. Fourth place went to Robbie Raines of Whiteoak at 14:29, with West Union’s Jai-Michael Knox rounding out a bunched up top five at 14:30.
The remainder of the medalists in the junior high boys race were Peebles’ Bryce Willoughby in sixth place (14:31), North Adams’ Donnie Pease seventh (14:35), Manchester’s Denton White eighth (14:41) and Ryland Wikoff ninth (14:44), and finally, Lynchburg’s Ashton Frazier 10th (14:46).
With their low combined score of 68, North Adams took home the junior high boys team title.
Thirty-three runners came to the line for the high school girls race and the race boiled down to a battle between three girls, with Manchester’s Kelsey Friend coming out on top with a time of 24:19 for the win, followed by Fayetteville’s Cecilia Murphy at 24:27, and Peebles’ Alisan Behr at 24:32. Fourth place went to Manchester’s Shyanne Tucker with her time of 25:03 and Peebles’ Abby Faulkner clocked in at fifth with a time of 25:23.
The sixth spot in the high school girls race was occupied by Whiteoak’s Taylor Tackett (25:27), with seventh going to Manchester’s Billie Kinhalt (25:39). Eighth place was taken by Notre Dame’s Olivia Smith (25:58), ninth to Whiteoak’s Katie Taylor (26:29(, and the final medal in high school girls went to West Union’s Katrina Boldman (27:11).
With three runners finishing in the top 10, the high school girls team championship of the Dragon Run went to the Manchester Lady Hounds, with West Union claiming second.
The final race of the day saw 66 high school boys came to the line and the race could easily be called a “no-contest” as Manchester junior Ethan Pennywitt ran away from the field, winning in a time of 18:16, nearly a full minute better than second place finisher Bobby Merry of Lynchburg, whom timed in at 19:18. Third place went to Lynchburg’s Brandon McCammon in a time of 19:19, with West Union’s Janson Kramer taking a respite from the soccer team to turn in a time of 19:28. Finishing the top five was Manchester’s Jamie Combs with a time of 19:39.
The number six spot in the high school boys race went to Seth Chamblin of Peebles (19:47), with seventh place occupied by West Union’s Adam Fulton (20:10). Number eight was Sammy Smith of Peebles (20:33), nine was Whiteoak’s Hunter Morgan (20:42), and the final medal of the day appropriately went to one of the host Dragons as West Union’s Gabe Grooms grabbed the 10th spot (20:50).
Many of the same cross-country squads will be back in West Union on Sept. 27 as the annual Adams County Meet takes place and again on Oct. 4 for the West Union Invitational.