Park Boys XC Wants To Make Noise at State Meet
11 individual local runners also punch ticket
WHEELING — Wheeling Park cross country coach Jacob Galik knows that his boys’ team didn’t run their best race at their regional last Thursday. However, the Patriots’ results were good enough for them to punch their ticket to the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission Class AAA Cross Country Championship after placing third.
The state meet is Saturday at Cabell Midland High School.
“The guys are excited and we are excited to have regionals passed us,” Galik said. The energy is really high. We’re ready.
“There’s something about taking a team down there (to the state meet). But we’re not going just to go, either. We’re not going just to say we went. We’re going down there to compete. We’re better than we showed (at the regional meet). We’re looking forward to getting the opportunity to prove it.”
The Patriots have had a season to remember so far. Wheeling Park started the 2020 campaign with three straight invitational victories (Wheeling Park Fall Classic, Chick-Fil-A Invitational and Bryan Fritz Memorial Invitational).
At OVACs, Wheeling Park claimed runner-up honors in Class 5A with four runners securing a Top 25 finish.
University finished first overall, while Morgantown claimed third, behind Wheeling Park by a mere point.
For the Patriots, Jonah Nizami placed eighth while Brady Miller secured ninth.
Max Morgan finished 11th and Hunter Midcap placed 25th.
At regionals, University secured another championship while Morgantown took runner-up.
The Patriots took the final team spot claiming third. Although two runners (Nizami and Miller) were able to get place in the Top 10, Galik knew it wasn’t his team’s best race.
“Regionals didn’t go our way,” Galik said.
“The heat and emotion of the day got us and for a little while there, it looked like it might be over for us. We got to advanced and we get to wash the taste out of our mouths. We’re not just going down there to run, we are going to compete. University might be one of the best teams I’ve seen. (Larry) Josh Edwards is phenomenal. If all of our guys can run to the fullest of our capabilities, then we can hold our own down there. All of our guys haven’t ran their best race at the same time. We’ll see what happens if that happens.”
Edwards is the reigning state champion as he also helped University to a state title last year.
This is the first time a Wheeling Park made it to the state meet on the boys side since the 2018 season. That year, Ronnie Saunders claimed the individual state championship to help his team place fourth.
Along with Nizami, Miller, Mogan and Midcap, Brady Amico, Trent Thomas and Eli Miller will also line up at the starting line in Ona. Ben Ashmore will serve as an alternate for the Patriots.
“It would be great to put a guy on the podium,” Galik said. “Maybe one or two. Maybe three. I would like to have a team average (time) in the low 17s and if we can do that, we would run our best race. And that’s our ultimate goal: is to run our best race in the biggest race of the year.”
Along with the Patriots, there were a handful of local individual qualifiers that extended their season and will have the opportunity to run on the biggest stage.
John Marshall’s Mack Allen will also run in the Class AAA race with the Patriots after placing fifth at regionals.
In Class A, Wheeling Central’s Aidan Scott secured a regional title. Teammate Patrick Childers also punched his ticket to state with a 10th place finish while Tyler Consolidated’s Haygen Baker crossed the finish lin in second.
Oak Glen’s Konnor Allison is the lone local runner in Class AA.. He placed sixth at his regional race.
On the girls’ side, John Marshall’s Zara Zervos will run in the Class AAA state meet after she finished eighth at regionals.
Oak Glen’s Sophia Arner (fourth) and Kennedy McGeehan (12th) will run in Class AA.
In Class A, a pair of Tyler Consolidated runners will compete in Emily Ebert and Kashia Brown. Ebert took runner-up honors while Brown placed 10th. Hundred’s Rachel Snedden claimed third punching her ticket to Ona.