The University High School girls’ and boys’ cross country teams had high expectations heading into the season and the opening Knight Night Relays. On Saturday, they took a first step toward meeting those expectations. Led by Millie and Andy Paladino, University swept the Knight Night Relays by taking both team titles in a meet that featured many of the top runners in the state.
In the girls’ race, top-ranked and defending champion Morgantown was expected to take the title. As the race progressed, it appeared that would be the case with the Morgantown A and B squads getting out strong. In the end, however, this race would be determined by Millie Paladino. Taking the baton (or in this case, the glowstick) 30 seconds behind very capable Morgantown “B” squad anchor Sydney Pineault, Paladino raced around the 1.5-mile circuit in 8:24.1 to secure the victory for the University “A” squad.
University’s Robin Altman, Abbey Harrison and Sarah Wills ran the opening legs of a 36:54.5 clocking over a 36:58.9 by the Morgantown “B” quartet that also featured Kaitlyn Woods, Hannah Pineault and Skylar Brooks. Demonstrating the depth of their squad, Morgantown “A” and its lineup of Victoria Cooke, Caroline Moore, Emma Hagerty and Allison Lynch took third in 38:02.1. Hampshire “A” (38:56.5) and Preston “A” (39:38.8) rounded out the top five teams.
Including Paladino’s superb dash, the top individual times were dominated by Morgantown and University runners with only Preston’s Kaitlyn Workman, Jefferson’s Abby Colbert and Hampshire’s Ashleigh Martin breaking into the top 10:
1. Millie Paladino University 08:24.1
2. Kaitlyn Workman Preston 08:49.7
3. Hannah Pineault Morgantown 08:53.1
4. Sydney Pineault Morgantown 09:00.1
5. Allison Lynch Morgantown 09:00.3
6. Abby Colbert Jefferson 09:01.0
7. Victoria Cooke Morgantown 09:07.5
8. Abbey Harrison University 09:13.6
9. Ashleigh Martin Hampshire 09:18.1
10. Kaitlyn Woods Morgantown 09:27.0
A great victory for a spirited University squad over two deep and strong Morgantown teams. These two teams will no doubt continue to battle this year culminating at States. It should be a great year in West Virginia Girls XC!
In the boys’ race, preseason No. 1 University was expected to take the title, and they did not disappoint. Nevertheless, it may not have been as easy as expected as Jefferson gave them a run for the title.
The first leg set the tone for the race as three runners battled for the lead. The lead changed hands several times with Jefferson’s Jackson Jacobs, preseason state AA/A No. 1 Johnny Hogue of Ritchie County and University’s Seth Edwards out front. Jacobs led coming into the stadium before being overtaken by Hogue and Edwards in the final 200 meters. It was a battle to the handoff with Hogue passing the baton in 7:34.2, just ahead of a rallying Jacobs (7:34.8) and Edwards (7:35.2) at the line. Jefferson’s Rhett Zillinger paced his team to a lead with a strong second leg (7:40.7), but after that point, it was a see-saw affair that came down to a final leg battle between WV #2 Andrew Milliron and WV #4 Andy Paladino. Paladino inherited a 28-second lead as he took the glowstick for the final carry. Milliron ran a superb 7:16.4 split, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the lead and the speedy Paladino (7:30.9) as University “A” (Paladino, Edwards, Tristan Harvey, Alex Minor) topped Milliron and his Jefferson “A”teammates of Jacobs, Zillinger and Colin Hayes, 30:46.8 to 30:59.2. Morgantown “A” of Connor Riley, Jacob Shockley, Colby Gresak and Jacob Jaquez seized third in 32:22.7, with Parkersburg “A” (32:34.7) and Hampshire “A” (33:12.3) rounding out the top five.
Individually, the top 10 splits for the 1.5 miles were:
1. Andrew Milliron Jefferson 07:16.4
2. Andy Paladino University 07:30.9
3. Johnny Hogue Ritchie County 07:34.2
4. Jackson Jacobs Jefferson 07:34.8
5. Seth Edwards University 07:35.2
6. Rhett Zillinger Jefferson 07:40.7
7. Connor Riley Morgantown 07:43.1
8. Scott Nesland Philip Barbour 07:49.0
9. Alex Minor University 07:49.7
10. Tristan Harvey University 07:51.0
The strength of preseason #1 University is obvious with four runners cracking the top 10 individually. Nevertheless, Jefferson showed well, with three of the top six finishers and some young talent on the way up. While University should remain a solid favorite, Jefferson, Parkersburg (their “A” and “B” squads finished fourth and sixth, respectively) and the ever present Cabell-Midland may have more to say before the season is out.
Overall, it was a great night in Kingwood with near perfect weather, a great crowd and a well-organized event by the staff at Preston High School. The cross country season is now in full swing. Best of luck to all the teams and runners as they work toward successful seasons!
University had the fastest quartets and one of the top individual splits in the Knight Night Relays.
Defending AAA champion Amelia Paladino needed just 8 minutes, 24.1 seconds to finish her 1.5-mile leg, anchoring the Hawks to victory in 36:54.5 to Morgantown’s 36:58.9. Another Morgantown squad was third in 38:02.1 as the Mohigans scored six of the 11 fastest splits.
Preston’s Kaitlyn Workman was second fastest in 8:49.7, followed by Morgantown’s Hannah Pineault (8:53.1), Sydney Pineault (9:00.1) and Allison Lynch (9:00.3), and Jefferson’s Abby Colbert (9:01.0).
In the boys’ relay, University won in 30:46.8 to Jefferson’s 30:59.2 and Morgantown’s 32:22.7. Andrew Milliron of Jefferson had the fastest carry at 7:16.4, with Andy Paladino of University next quickest at 7:30.9. Johnny Hogue of Ritchie County clocked 7:34.2, while Jackson Jacobs of Jefferson was fourth at 7:34.8 and Seth Edwards of University fifth in 7:35.2.