The Concord Mountain Lions put on an awesome display of teamwork and unity as eight runners crossed the line within a span of .10 seconds and claimed the top 10 spots for a perfect score of 15 points. The lady lions also claimed 1st place with a perfect score and their race will be discussed later in the article.
Concord University's Coach Mike Cox huddled the men's team together prior to the race and told the guys before the race he wanted them to stay together for a while. Well, stay together they did.
The race started with Jonathan Langer of West Liberty taking the lead for almost a mile. Concord followed closely with a pack of seven runners consisting of Chris Herron, Adam Coon, Scott Grose, Randy Horner, Ryan Kent, Lance McDaniel, and Michael Smutko. At the mile mark, the mountain lions were in first as each man was taking turns pulling the pack.
Trailing the lead pack was Chris Snell, a 2004 All-WVIAC performer. In 2004 as a sophomore, Snell finished 51st in the National Championship and appeared to be ready to make his mark. However, he came down with mononucleosis and struggled with the misunderstood disease. Snell red-shirted in 2005, but with this season approaching, it seemed he was still a way off from the 2004 form. With numerous setbacks, the team's star kept his head up and with his coach and teammates encouraging him all along the way he decided it was time to get back in the mix.
Chris Snell (front) and Matt Dunlap
As the pack was rolling along with ease, Snell was doggedly pursuing his teammates. He finally passed Langer and was sitting in 8th place around the 2 mile mark. The Concord guys had been talking about letting every man be for himself after the 3 mile mark. However, as they were getting ready to see who could win, one of the guys noticed that Snell was only about 15 to 20 seconds back. In an awesome display of camaraderie, the team started exhorting their former leader to catch up to them. They were seen clapping and chanting Snell's name during the race. Snell responded and caught up to his teammates. I am sure the pack helped a little, but it didn't matter. Snell was there and that was all that mattered.
As the team approached the finish line, they elected to let Chris Herron, the lone senior, finish first and then the pack came through together with hands raised high. In the middle of the pack of eight was Chris Snell smiling from ear to ear as many friends and coaches came to tears as this type of teamwork is not normally seen during a competitive race.
Chris Herron after finishing first
With the finish, it was almost overlooked the awesome team also ran a respectable time on the 5 mile course and had the top ten finishers. With 2005 red-shirt runners of Herron, Snell, Coon, and Kent available and the rest of the team performing well, Concord is established as a legitimate contender to win the WVIAC.
For the ladies race, Kallen Weaver of West Liberty and a transfer from West Virginia University ran away from the field on the hilly 5K course of Pipestem Park with a time of 21:13.2. The nearest competitor, Amanda Blankenship of Concord, was over a minute and half back in 22:46. However, West Liberty did not bring an entire team and the lady lions of Concord claimed a perfect score of 15 points.
Kallen Weaver of West Liberty in Front
Amanda Blankenship in 2nd
Special thanks to John Paul Blankenship for photos.