Bellaire’s Jacob Defibaugh, John Marshall’s Zara Zervos Captain 4th The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Regsiter All-Valley XC Teams
2020 has been a different year for all of us, including high school sports. With much stress and thought about not having a season, cross country found success in putting runners on the course. And with no surprise, many local runners put forth stellar seasons. And it’s time to reward them of their hard work. Here is the fourth annual Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register All-Valley Cross Country Teams.
Jacob Defibaugh, Bellaire
The lone local Ohio boys’ runner to qualify to the state meet, Bellaire’s Jacob Defibaugh, put a ribbon on his prep career. The Big Reds standout started off the 2020 year with a victory at the Ohio Valley Cross Country League Opening Day meet back in August. His success continued as he claimed All-OVAC placing 18th overall at the conference meet and was the second Class 3A runner to cross the finish line. At districts, he claimed gold as he crossed the finish line in a time at 16:52.60. He qualified to the state meet placing 13th at the regional meet. Finally in his final race in a Bellaire uniform, Defibaugh placed 20th overall (16:23.8) which earned him all-Ohio for the second year in a row.
Zara Zervos, John Marshall
For the third time, Zara Zervos has made it on the All-Valley team with it being her second time as captain. The Monarchs’ standout put together an impressive senior season that was filled with success and redemption. One race Zervos won during the regular season was the Wheeling Park Fall Classic. She also secured a Top 10 finish at OVACs where she placed seventh (20:39.69). After failing to qualify to the state meet last season, she made sure her last race in a Monarchs uniform was going to be in Ona. At regionals, Zervos finished eighth (21:25.05). At the state meet, she finished her prep cross country career in impressive fashion as she finished 10th (20:15.57) to earn All-West Virginia.
John Marshall’s Mack Allen certainly had some form of monkey on his back going into this year’s cross country season. While having a successful 2019 campaign, he fell one place short of going to the state meet. The Monarch junior made sure that wasn’t going to happen again as he placed fifth at the regional meet (17:22.60). Allen then finished his year with a 17:54.10 performance in Ona good enough for 36th overall. He also put forth an impressive performance at the OVAC meet. He timed in with a 16:29 which placed him in the Top 10 (seventh) which got him All-OVAC.
After finishing in the Top 15 at the state meet last year, Oak Glen’s Konnor Allison was hungry for some more. And he certainly found some more success in his junior year for the Golden Bears. He was the top local finisher at the OVAC meet where he clocked in at 16:15 for a fourth place finish. He was the top 4A runner at the event and earn All-OVAC. At regionals, he finished sixth (18:38) to punch his ticket back to the state meet. During the Class AA state meet, Allison finished his junior campaign with an 11th place finish clocking in with a time of 17:11.82.
The first new member of the All-Valley Cross Country team in 2020 is Tyler Consolidated’s Haygen Baker. After helping the Silver Knights qualify to the state meet a year ago and placing 40th individually, Baker had another impressive season as a junior. At the LKC Championship, Baker paced Tyler Consolidated with a third place finish individually (18:00.1). He followed that with a runner-up finish at the Class A regional meet timing in at 18:01.13. At the state meet, he crossed the finish line in a time of 17:50.65 good enough for ninth and claiming All-West Virginia honors.
Brady Miller was one of many reasons behind Park’s success this year. He started his season by winning the Wheeling Park Fall Classic. The junior was one of two Patriots to place in the Top 10 at the OVAC meet. He finished ninth overall clocking in at 16:37.58. At regionals, Miller placed seventh (17:24.31) to help Wheeling Park secure a third place finish as a team and punch their ticket down to state. Miller finished his junior campaign clocking in at 17:19.78 good enough for 23rd place at the West Virginia state meet.
When there comes success, there always comes some adversity and redemption. Wheeling Park’s Max Morgan experienced all of it during his junior year. After placing 11th (16:45.06) and receiving All-OVAC honors at the conference meet, he didn’t have a great regional race. With the Patriots qualifying to state as a team, Morgan redeemed himself in one of the biggest ways. The junior was the first Patriot to cross the finish line at the state meet with a 13th overall finish (16:56.73) as Wheeling Park secured fourth as a team in the Class AAA field.
It’s no secret that Nizami is one of the best in the Class AAA field now. Only a sophomore, this is the second year Nizami made the All-Valley team. He secured an eighth place finish at the conference meet (16:32.70). The sophomore again paced the Patriots at the regional meet. Nizami placed fourth in arguably the toughest region in the state (17:13.81). He finished his year with an impressive 20th place finish at the state meet in a time of 17:12.03.
Based on how his freshman season went, it looks like Wheeling Central has found another star on the rise. Aidan Scott’s first year in high school was one for the books. He finished 10th overall at the OVAC meet clocking in at 16:42.10. His finish there not only gave him All-OVAC honors, but he was the first small school (2A) runner to cross the finish line. His impressive postseason continued as he claimed the individual Class A regional title with a time of 17:12.87. He finished his year with a third place finish at the state meet clocking in at 17:31.64.
For the second straight year, Martins Ferry’s Elijah Smith makes his way to the All-Valley team. And he put together a great final year in a Purple Riders uniform. At the OVAC meet, he claimed All-OVAC honors as he secured a 29th overall finish clocking in at 17:45.14. At the district meet, he paced the Purple Riders to a third place finish as a team and placed 14th individually (17:29.12). He ended his prep career at the regional meet.
Oak Glen’s Sophia Arner makes her way to the All-Valley team for the first time in her prep career. And she put forth an impressive season. Claiming All-OVAC honors (21st overall) at conference, she was the third Class 4A runner to cross the line clocking in with a time of 21:32.62. Her impressive postseason didn’t end there. She also earned a trip to the state meet with a fourth place finish at the West Virginia Class AA regionals meet. At the state meet, she claimed 16th overall timing in at 21:35.81.
Four years, four times on the All-Valley Cross Country Team. Harrison Central’s Jasmine Arnold had quite the prep career. During her final season, she claimed the fifth overall spot and was the Class 4A champion at the OVAC meet (20:06.52) and earning All-OVAC honors. At the district meet, she paced the Huskies with a runner-up finish clocking in at 19:20.06. She rounded out her prep career with a fourth consecutive trip to the regional meet where she finished 85th timing in at 22:21.
Good news for the River cross country program: there’s another Beard that’s going to be around for three more years. Only a freshman, River’s Mara Beard made the most of her debut prep season. She placed ninth at OVACs (20:58.68) and was the Class 1A/2A champion and also earned All-OVAC honors. She qualified to the regional meet after placing fourth overall at districts timing in at 20:49.14. She ended her first year as a Pilot finishing 45th at the regional meet.
Just a sophomore, Tyler Consolidated’s Emily Ebert saw much success during the 2020 season. With a fourth place overall finish at the LKC championships, her postseason success didn’t stop there. At the regional meet, Ebert paced the Silver Knights claiming runner-up honors and punching her ticket to the Class A state meet. She timed in at 22:45.32. She finished her sophomore campaign by finishing 20th at state timing in at 22:12.06.
For the second straight year, St. Clairsville’s Allyson Evonek has claimed a spot on the All-Valley team. The junior secured a 10th overall finish at the conference meet to earn All-OVAC honors clocking in at 20:59.40. She paced the Red Devils to a regional bid as a team as she clocked in at 21:15.01 good enough for 12th overall, individually. In her final meet of the year, she finished 39th overall at regionals.
Martins Ferry’s Josie Hancock will be a runner that area athletes will have to keep an eye on over the next two years. Hancock finished 11th overall at the conference meet with a time of 21:00.25 and earned All-OVAC. At districts, she paced the Purple Riders with a third overall finish (20:21.43) as she qualified as an individual. At the regional meet, she missed out on state by four places where she placed 24th timing in at 20:46.5.
Barnesville’s Aubrey Johnson has a bright future ahead of her in prep cross country. As a sophomore, she has already turned in a respectable resume. Johnson earned All-OVAC honors by placing 18th at the conference meet timing in at 21:18.35 and was also the third 3A runner to cross the finish line. She paced the Shamrocks to a second place team finish at districts where she timed in at 21:00.94 good for sixth individually and qualified to the regional meet.
Wheeling Park’s Lacey Wright was able to find much success in her early career. She finished 17th overall at the conference meet earning All-OVAC honors and timing in at 21:16.24. In the early going of the season, she finished third at the Wheeling Park Fall Classic, 11th at the Chick-Fil-A Invitational and placed fourth at the Bryan Fritz Invitational.