Top runners finish first
ONA -- Capital's Peyton Panger and Musselman's Shane Rigsby showed Saturday why they're the No. 1-ranked girls and boy, respectively, in high school Class AAA cross country going into the 2014 season.
Panger and Rigsby handled the heat and competition to win their respective races in the St. Mary's Medical Center Cross Country Festival at Cabell Midland High School. Panger covered the 5K course in 19:55 and Rigsby turned in a 16:44 while being pushed by three Thomas Worthington (Ohio) runners down the home stretch.
Both hope to be in that spot again on Nov. 1 when the West Virginia High School Championship meet takes place on the same course. Several runners from the top northern schools who didn't compete Saturday figure to be here in a couple of months.
"It's nice to make a statement," said Panger, who spent a couple of minutes under the sprinkler after her race to cool down. "The best will be here then, too. Physical condition then could totally affect the November race."
Emergency and medical personnel had a busy day at their cool down stations just past the finish line. There was plenty of ice and water and two big tubs of ice water to place runners/spectators overcome by the heat.
Panger said handling hot conditions prior to Saturday got her ready.
"If you can't handle the heat before the day of the race, you aren't going to do it then," the senior said. "I had a bottle of water in hand every training session. I tried to establish position early. There are so many variables and things can change quickly."
Rigsby, also a senior, moved to the front as runners approached the hill on the course and stayed ahead of the three Thomas Worthington pursuers the rest of the way.
"I didn't want to the lead too early, but I wanted to keep contact with the others," he said. "When we got to the hill, I took it (lead). I was surrounded and thought those three might work together. I was able to push through."
Rigsby said hydration techniques in practice and prior to the race helped him prevail.
"It was tough on everybody," he said. "You just keep your form through the finish line. I didn't look back. I didn't know if they'd take off or not."
Thomas Worthington (located just north of Columbus) repeated as boys and girls champion in Class AAA. The Cardinals had four runners in the top 10 and 30 points to 56 for runner-up Cabell Midland in boys. They totaled 43 points to 56 for No. 2 Hurricane in girls.
"They're tough," Knights coach Chris Parsons said of Thomas Worthington. "You saw why. I told our guys not to go out too hard. Be conservative, stay strong. The top five were pretty impressive."
In Class AA-A, Bridgeport won the boys title and Berkeley Springs prevailed in girls. Buffalo's Hayden Harrison ran 16:46 to finish No. 1 in boys and Berkeley Springs had the top two runners in Danielle Haynes (21:08) and Kinsey Reed (21:27).
In the two junior varsity races, Thomas Worthington dominated in boys and girls.
In middle school, Winfield won boys with 34 points and Ripley the girls with 75. Boyd County's Elijah Miller was the top individual in boys (11:13) and Ripley's Tori Starcher (12:35) was the first girl across the finish line.
The Herald-Dispatch welcomes your comments on this article, but please be civil. Avoid profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, accusations of criminal activity, name-calling or insults to the other posters. Herald-dispatch.com does not control or monitor comments as they are posted, but if you find a comment offensive or uncivil, hover your mouse over the comment and click the X that appears in the upper right of the comment. If you do not want your comment to post to your personal Facebook page, uncheck the box below the comment.