MINERAL WELLS — Williamstown junior Alyssa Sauro topped the field at Saturday’s 23rd annual Chick-fil-A Invitational and the Yellowjackets had four thinclads crack the top 10 en route to their fourth straight crown.
“Four in the top 10. Yeah, that was awesome,” said WHS head girls coach Mike Taylor, whose team had 37 points to outpace runner-up Parkersburg’s 70. “That’s probably our best team effort for the year.
“I think they all stepped it up very well today. A lot of the back runners set some PRs, especially Kate (Florence) and Bridget (Kirby). They are making our team better, those two. They are keeping the front-runners honest.”
Sauro, who won the race for the third consecutive year, was given a gameplan to stick with the top runners for half the race and then do her thing. She finished in 18 minutes and 23 seconds to best runner-up Hannah Kliner of Oak Glen (19:33) and third-place finisher Arabella Boggs of Charleston Catholic (20:00).
“She’s been kind of on the lame,” admitted coach Taylor, who was pleased with her execution. “To make up for some lost time we’re just putting in an easy 3-mile run after the race to get some miles in and keep everything going.”
Cassie Sites edged fellow Yellowjacket teammate Ava Lightfritz for fourth place, 20:19 to 20:25. Sydney Anderson (10th, 20:55) and Lexi Wynn (17th, 21:40) comprised the remainder of the WHS scoring.
“We were at full strength today,” said a pleased Lightfritz. “Having Alyssa out, really, I think it helped us. We kind of got in our heads a little bit the past couple of races because like she wasn’t out there with us
“Having her out there with us really helped, though, and we ran as a pack today, which is what we needed to do. Cassie is doing phenomenal. I can’t even, like, there’s no words to describe how good she’s doing. We really came together as a team today.”
The Parkersburg girls had Ellie Hines (6th, 20:33), Abbie Bacorn (9th, 20:51), Audrey Wagoner (11th, 21:28), Aubrey Lantz (21st, 22:01) and Katie Rutherford (23rd, 22:07) lead the way.
“Morgan Metz, the freshman who won the race last week (at Vinton County), twisted her ankle and had to drop out the first 400,” PHS head coach George Angelos said. “She twisted it at the beginning. Like I said, I think they have a great upside, but it’s going to be a learning process.
“I think September is just going to be our laboratory. We are going to learn from week to week. We could be wildly inconsistent until we sort it all out, but I think in the end I’m hoping we’re good at the end. Abbie really ran a great race today.”
East Fairmont’s Kailee Haymond (7th, 20:40) and North Marion’s Taylor Ness (8th, 20:43) rounded out the top 10.
Sauro was just glad to be back with her teammates.
“It was definitely really exciting,” she said. “I’ve been out for the past like two weeks, more like 11 days, but I just started getting back into it. I had some issues with a muscle on the outside of my foot so I’ve been doing some swimming.
“I ran for the first time on Tuesday and I’m real happy with the race today. These girls work so hard in practice and I see it every single day. It’s really exciting just getting better with them.”
Also earning top 40 finishes from the area were Parkersburg South’s Lexi McKinney (20th, 21:51), Tyler Consolidated’s Lilly Dillaman (25th, 22:23), the Yellowjackets Florence (26th, 22:25) and Kerby (31st, 22:47), Parkersburg Catholic’s Seneca Lang (27th, 22:31), Big Red Olivia Carpenter (35th, 23:05), Wirt County’s Megan Cutlip (39th, 23:23) and Ripley’s Lanie Knopp (39th, 23:29).
Bridgeport had more than enough to top Buffalo, 68-79, to win the title for the boys, but it was Bison senior Patrick Reilly who fended off Indian sophomore Troy Zorick to win the title, 16:13 to 16:15.
Williamstown, which took third with 84 points to nip Parkersburg’s 86, was led by the sixth-place showing of Julian Johnson, who crossed in 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Connor George’s 16:44 was tops on the Big Reds and good for seventh.
WHS also had top 40 efforts thanks to Frank Conner (8th, 16:47), Will Coiner (13th, 17:10), Chase Pickering (30th, 18:05) and Zander Boyce (36th, 18:15).
The remainder of the area top 40 placers featured Magnolia’s Landen Davis (10th, 16:56), Tyler Consolidated’s Amos Kimble (11th, 16:57), Big Reds Jack Mills (14th, 17:13), Christian Rutherford (18th, 17:25), Jackson Wharton (23rd, 17:40), Daniel Martin (35th, 18:12) and Ricardo Salazar (39th, 18:21) along with Silver Knight Travis Moore (24th, 17:44), Blue Eagle Shiv Patel (34th, 18:11) and Parkersburg South’s Kameron Wilson (31st, 18:09) and Lucas Jenkins (38th, 18:18).
Contact Jay Bennett at [email protected]