Morgantown coach Mike Ryan had it all mapped out - a path to victory in the ninth Red, White & Blue Invitational in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park.
Following Ryan's instructions, the Mohigans topped 53 girls teams, becoming the first out-of-state winner in one of the most competitive early-season meets in western Pennsylvania. Morgantown placed four in the top 30 en route to 114 points.
"It was a goal coming in (to represent West Virginia well)," Ryan said. "I was all over the Penn TrackXC Web site this week looking at results, trying to see the competition up here. We came up last year, and I knew it was going to be a great meet."
Junior Brynn Harshbarger helped the Mohigans improve on last year's seventh-place showing by finishing ninth at 19:12. Freshman Victoria Cooke was two spots back in 19:23, with sophomore Sydney Pineault in 23rd at 19:53 and classmate Allison Lynch 28th in 20:10. Freshman Andrea Pettit's 43rd-place time of 20:27 gave Morgantown a 75-second spread for the scoring five.
"We knew it was going to go out fast - the first mile on this course is crazy - and then the girls knew they had to run really hard and really tough coming back," said Ryan, who used a powerpoint presentation of pictures of the course to prepare his team. "I kept telling them you can make a little move in this race and get big results from it. And that's what a lot of our girls did, especially our 3, 4 and 5 runners."
Mount Lebabon was second with 129, followed by Quaker Valley at 195 and Hempfield Area at 211. North Hills was fifth with 220.
"We are in a battle (with University) for 1 and 2 in our state, and this is a great opportunity for us to come and race against, instead of 1 or 2 great teams, a whole bunch of 'em," Ryan said. "We definitely looked forward to this meet. Anytime we get a chance to come out of state and run well, we get excited."