MSAC Championships Recap

Cabell Midland defended its home course to capture both the boys and girls team titles at the Mountain State Athletic Conference championships on Thursday evening.

The Class AAA defending champion Midland boys won in dominating fashion, while the girls tied with rival Hurricane, but won with the sixth-runner tiebreaker.

Knights sophomore Emma Jenkins, a sophomore, won the girls race with a time of 19:20.66 to pace Midland to victory.

Running on her home course provided a big advantage, Jenkins said.

"I know every place to pick it up, every place to surge, so it's a pretty big advantage to run on your home course," Jenkins said. "I was racing with a girl from Hurricane - she was tough to beat, but I made sure I ran up the hill pretty strategically and then, on the straight stretches I would sort of pick it up a little bit, and that's just how I kind of got my lead, and I took advantage of the downhills for sure."

For Jenkins, the win represented a solid first postseason step, as Midland, the defending Class AAA state runner-up, will compete in the Class AAA Region IV championship at Ripley on Oct. 24, and with qualification will run again at Midland in the state championship on Nov. 2.

"It's a pretty good kickstart," Jenkins said of the postseason push.

Jenkins ran side-by-side with Hurricane freshman Audrey Hall through the first mile, but surged ahead as the race progressed. Hall finished runner-up in 19:41.42, with Woodrow Wilson freshman Charlotte McGinnis taking third in 19:52.01.

Neither Tori Starcher, a Ripley senior and West Virginia Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, nor Parkersburg senior Madison Trippett, the defending Class AAA girls state champion, competed in the race. Starcher, who recently announced her verbal commitment to run at Notre Dame, and Trippett both sat with stress reactions. For Starcher, her season is finished, and she'll soon begin to prepare for track, while Trippett is expected to race at the regional championships.

Midland and Hurricane tied for the girls title with 42 points each, but the Knights won the sixth-runner tiebreaker. Woodrow Wilson placed third with 81 points.

In the boys race, Midland captured its 20th conference championship since 1997, with four Knights finishing among the top 10. Midland won with 31 points, with runner-up George Washington at 73 points, while third-place finisher Hurricane totaled 76 points.

Knights sophomore Cooper Gibson placed second in 16:31.06, with teammate Sam LeRose, a junior, taking third in 16:31.57, to lead the Midland effort.

Hurricane senior Wyatt Hanshaw claimed first place with at time of 16:06.01.

"It was tough," Hanshaw said of the race. "I definitely didn't feel how I expected to feel, but I still gutted it out, got the job done."

Following the win, Hanshaw will look to secure further hardware with the regional and state meets ahead, with hopes of racing sub-16 minutes, he said.

"I'm feeling very confident," Hanshaw said. "I'm happy with the work I've got in, and now, it's just taper for regionals and states, make sure we're feeling great and legs are fresh."