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Wayne's Rutherford makes Top 10

Oct. 28, 2012 @ 12:31 AM

ONA -- Wayne's Kylie Rutherford had something in common with Maggie Drazba of St. Marys on Saturday.

Both ran personal bests in the West Virginia High School Cross Country Championships at Cabell Midland High School. Drazba blitzed the Class AA-A girls field, winning in a course-record time of 17:17.89. Samantha Nightingale of Blue Spring South (Mo.) had mark at 17:32.7 in winning the Cross Country Coaches National Youth Championships on Nov. 19 at Cabell Midland.

Rutherford, the Region IV champion who competed as an individual, covered the 5K course in 20:04.91 to place eighth overall. That earned them both spots on the podium during the awards ceremony inside the Cabell Midland gym. Drazba was at the top for the second straight year and third time in four years.

"This is so unreal," said Rutherford, the first Wayne athlete to make all-state in cross country. "I was hoping for a top 10. I don't have words to describe the way I feel right now."

Rutherford, a junior, went out hard the first mile, got into the top 10 and stayed there.

"When I got on the track and coming down the stretch, I knew I could do it," she said. "I had a smile on my face."

The runners had to handle a cool temperature and rain, quite a contrast from the hot, muggy GEICO Classic back on Sept. 1.

"I really wanted to get the record," Drazba said. "I was a little worried about the rain, but things worked out."

Drazba's previous best was 17:27.9 on Sept. 29 when she won the Great American Cross Country Festival in Cary N.C., where she competed against many of the top runners in the country.

On Saturday, Drazba once again ran virtually by herself. Katie Jan of Frankfort took second in 19:23.52. Philip Barbour had three runners in the top 10 and won the title with 75 points. Frankfort was second with 81.

"I ran the race I wanted to," said Drazba, who was cheered home by the crowd as she entered the track for the final two turns and a charge down the stretch. "I have timelines I want to get and I did."

Drazba, ranked No. 20 nationally by MileSplit.com, said improved training led to her cross country success. As a sophomore, she placed third.

"I didn't improve the way I wanted to. So I tried something different," she said.

Drazba's season is not over. She hopes to qualify for the Foot Locker finals and needs a top-10 finish in the South Regional on Nov. 24 in Charlotte. When spring comes, she'll be out to defend her titles in the 800, 1600 and 3200.

"I'm happy with what I did today, but the Foot Locker nationals is the goal," she said.

In Class AAA girls, No. 1 University prevailed with 30 points and rival Morgantown was second with 90. University's Amelia Paladino led the field, winning in 17:47.32.