Defending AAA Champion Jacob Burcham Nearing the Finish Line Last Year
For anyone that has followed running in the state of West Virginia over the last few years, the names are familiar: Brandon Doughty, Cody Pelliccioni and Dayton McVicker.
L-R Burcham, McVicker, Doughty, and Pelliccioni
The threesome has now graduated and are beginning their collegiate careers--Doughty and McVicker at the University of Oklahoma and Pelliccioni at North Carolina State.
A new wave of running talent is eager to leave their legacy in West Virginia cross country history. The up and coming talent is headlined by rising Cabell Midland junior Jacob Burcham the defending West Virginia AAA cross country champion.
While everyone was training hard for the upcoming cross country season, Burcham was busy piling up the awards from his impressive track season.
After winning three events--the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs--at the state meet, Burcham ran The Dream Mile in New York posting an impressive time of 4:07.66. He, then, followed it up by winning the 1,500-meter run at the IAAF National Youth Championship in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Burcham’s most impressive feat came at the IAAF World Youth Championship when he placed seventh overall with a time of 3:46.55.
Some of the athletes that will be trying to chase down Burcham will be Brody Born and Peter Schwarzenberg of Preston, Eric and Ryan Graf of Jefferson, Jordan Brown-Stobbe of University and Burcham’s teammates Tyler Salmons, Jeremy Waugh and Avery Campbell.
Jordan Brown-Stobbe of University, Jeremy Waugh of Cabell Midland, and Peter Schwarzenberg of Preston (background)
After Burcham crossed the line first overall, Born is the next top returning finisher from the last year’s state meet. He came across the line in fifth in a time of 16:18.
Born’s teammate, Schwarzenberg narrowly missed out on all-state honors in cross country as he was edged by Cabell Midland’s Ryan Smith in the last 100 meters of the race. However, Schwarzenberg ran a gutsy race at the state meet in the 3,200-meter run as he captured sixth place and earned all-state.
The team title hopes of Jefferson will weigh heavily on how effective the Grafs can run throughout the year.
Eric, the older Graf, finished seventh last year at the state meet, but was unable to earn all-state in track. His younger brother, Ryan got 12th place at the state meet. The rising sophomore came back strong in track and placed in the top six in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs.
The senior-to-be, Brown-Stobbe was able to slip into the top ten at the state meet last year with a ninth place finish. In the spring, he ran to a fourth place finish in the 3,200-meter run.
Salmons, Waugh and Campbell tend to get lost in the shuffle of Burcham’s success. Salmons and Waugh both finished inside the top ten last year. Also, the three should help Midland run away with their third consecutive team title.
With Midland being a huge favorite for the team title, the race for second gets interesting. Jefferson finished second last year and they return four of their top seven. Preston should also be in the mix as they only lose one from their top seven from a team that finished third last year.
If University can find some support behind Brown-Stobbe, they could make a run at getting on the podium at the state meet, as they return five of their top seven.
On the AAA girls’ side of things, the discussion starts with the always intense rivalry between University, Preston and Morgantown.
Last year, each time Preston and University went head-to-head the Hawks beat the Knights including at the state meet, when University won their second state championship in three years by four points.
Morgantown came on strong towards the end of the season and was able to beat Hampshire and grabbed third place.
Between the three schools, they only lose three runners from a possible 21. Hampshire could also be in the mix as they only two runners from a team that was predicted to be in the top three and ran strong the majority of the year.
Like the girls’ team race, there’s great debate as to which young lady could prevail at the end of the season.
Preston’s Kaitlyn Workman is the top returning finisher from a year ago. She was beaten by now-graduated Letitia Propst from Elkins in the race’s closing seconds.
Kaitlyn Workman of Preston
Rising senior Alyssa Scherich was just behind Workman at the state meet and third. University’s tandem of Amelia Paladino and Emily Lynch could find themselves running near the front most of the season. Paladino finished fourth last year at the state meet and Lynch finished seventh.
Alyssa Scherich of Fairmont Senior
Morgantown’s Sydney Pineault could have a serious breakout year, if she can stay healthy. She didn’t run a race from the beginning of September until late October at regionals because of injury. She posted a top-10 finish at regionals, then followed it up with a sixth place finish at states.
Bridgeport’s Morganne Phillips finished fifth at the state meet and will be a junior this coming fall.
Morgantown’s Sydney Pineault and Bridgeport’s Morganne Phillips
With several top runners from last year being underclassmen, others could make a serious run into the top ten and even top five. Some of those are Cabell Midland’s Jorden Thornton, North Marion’s Emma Harrison, Morgantown’s Brynn Harshbarger, Hampshire’s Danielle Lewis, Preston’s Racheal Hulett and University’s Katelyn Wheeler.