It’s the classic individual, head-to-head cross country rivalry. Maggie Drazba versus Sami Harris.
When the two juniors step on the line Saturday morning in Ona for the West Virginia State Championship meet, it will be the ninth time including track the duo has gone head-to-head with a championship on the line. For those of you keeping count, Drazba leads 7-2.
While former Philip Barbour star Sarah McCauley was crushing the field at last year’s state meet, Harris did manage to fend off Drazba for second. Two years ago, St. Marys' Drazba won the individual title at Cabell Midland while Harris finished sixth. Harris’ only other win over Drazba came in the 3200-meter run at the 2010 state track meet.
According to the wvruners.com rankings, Harris has run a faster time this season than Drazba. The Charleston Catholic star posted a time of 18:25 in early September at the Chick-fil-a Invitational in Mineral Wells. Meanwhile, Drazba posted an impressive time of 18:29 at the LKC Championships on October 13.
To analyze this rivalry even further, when Harris posted her 18:25, Drazba was only seven seconds behind her. The tandem have gone head-to-head three times this season with the first being at Cabell Midland in the Geico Classic with Drazba coming out on top.
Drazba and Harris in the 3200m run at state track meet
Something else that will certainly come into play on Saturday afternoon will be the fact that Drazba will have the pressure of carrying her team to a championship. Currently, in the wvrunners.com rankings St. Mary’s is ahead of behind Philip Barbour at number one in AA-A. Drazba must remember to run smart because every point for her team will count. Harris is not pressured with the same burden as Drazba. Charleston Catholic failed to qualify for the state meet as a team.
Enough with Drazba and Harris, keep in mind other runners will be vying for all-state slots. Here are some runners to watch in AA-A: Weir’s duo of Alexis Virtue and Kristen Mastrantoni are the next highest ranked runners after Drazba and Harris. Frankfort’s Katie Jan is ranked 5th and always seems to run well at the state meet. The next five ranked runners in AA-A are Oak Glen’s Kelsey Chambers, Philip Barbour’s Brianna Waybright and Katie Mahoney, Ravenswood’s Hailey Miller and Shady Spring’s Sarah Phillips.
Mahoney, Waybright and Phillips will be three runners to keep an eye on.
Katie Mahoney 3200m run at the WV State Track and Field Championship (Lance McDaniel Photo)
Brianna Waybright 3200m run at the WV State Track and Field Championship (Lance McDaniel photo)
Philip Barbour entered the season as the favorite to win and is just a few points off of St. Mary’s entering Saturday.
Philip Barbour appears to have a strong third runner, Marissa Long. However, the Colts will need a breakout performance from their 5th, 6th or 7th runner if they want a shot of knocking off St. Mary’s. Just to give everyone an idea of how much better St. Mary’s is than Philip Barbour. St. Mary’s number two runner--Jen Brewer has run a season-best 21:34 and their five runner--Ali Johnson has run a season-best 22:07. The sixth and seventh runners are less than 30 seconds behind her. On the other side of the coin, Philip Barbour’s two runner, Katie Mahoney has run 20:37 this season and their five runner, Haley Truman has run 24:39.
If either team was to slip up, Shady Spring and Ravenswood would be the next two teams to be in contention for a championship. In fact, Shady and Ravenswood both have tighter packs than Philip Barbour.
All four teams appear to be strong contender and all four teams have at least girl that will be in contention for all-state honors. But for all of them, it’ll take a strong effort one through seven to bring home a championship.
Philip Barbour 2010 WV State Cross Country Champions (Photo by Lance McDaniel)