Philip Barbour Wins Boys and Girls AA-A State Championship
The last race at the West Virginia State Cross Country Championships was expected to be the wildest race of the day. It was the boys’ AA-A race. It didn’t disappoint.
Two guys with the same surname duked it out for the individual title, while three teams were separated by a mere 10 points for the team title.
Will Shaffer of Scott Leading Andrew Shaffer of Richwood Early in the AA-A Race
As the leaders came through the first mile, Richwood’s Andrew Shaffer and Scott’s Will Shaffer ran stride for stride, crossing in 5:15. Next was Buffalo’s Evan Childers and Ritchie County’s Johnny Hogue in 5:22. The next runners to come through the first-third of the race were St. Mary’s Charlie Drazba, Oak Hill’s Wes Stowers and Shady Spring’s Tyler Kosut. The trio crossed in 5:30.
As the leaders made their way towards the 4-H extension building (approximately 1.3 miles into the race), things had taken a drastic turn. Will Shaffer had opened up a 10 meter lead on Andrew. Meanwhile, the rest of the top five had changed. Hogue separated himself from Childers. Drazba had made a move to climb to fourth. Stowers was hanging on to fifth.
As Will Shaffer ran the Cabell Midland course, he continued to open up the gap on the rest of the field. However, as he approached the two-mile mark, Andrew Shaffer was gaining significant ground on his counterpart.
Will came through two miles in 10:46. Andrew was running him down. He came through in 10:48. Hogue was well back of the two Shaffers, but remained in third, crossing in 11:05. Drazba and Stowers came through together in 11:13.
As both young men came back through the starting area,
(about 1000m left to go) it was back to a virtual deadlock. Both runners were trading surges. As the spectators watched for the track bleachers, Andrew Shaffer had the final say as he surged with less than 800m left to go to pull away from Will Shaffer for good.
Andrew Shaffer 2011 West Virginia AA-A State XC Champion
The senior from Richwood put a huge gap between himself and the junior from Scott. Andrew finished in 16:27 and Will crossed in 16:42. Hogue held onto third with a time of 16:57. Magnolia senior Bill Feeney worked some last mile magic to snatch fourth with a time of 17:02. Drazba was right behind him finishing in 17:03. Stowers, Kosut, St. Mary’s Jordan Whitehair, Ritchie County’s Clinton Hardman and Philip Barbour’s Wes Anderson rounded the all-state first-team. Seven through ten was separated by a little more than a second.
Bill Feeney of Magnoia (L) and Charlie Drazba of St. Marys
2011 West Virginia Cross Country AA-A All-State Performers
“Whenever (Will) pulled away from me after the first mile, I never really panicked,” Andrew Shaffer said. “I knew if I could catch him, I had a better kick for the end of the race.”
According to Will Shaffer, he ran the race he planned to run. “I wanted to go out and take the lead and run around 5:15 for the first mile and that’s exactly what I did,” he said. “Andrew and I just stayed on each other must of the race.”
As previously stated, the team race was expected to be a dogfight. Despite having only one runner crack the top 10, Philip Barbour outlasted St. Mary’s and Oak Hill for the team title. The Colts beat the Blue Devils by four points and the Red Devils by 10 points.
St. Mary’s state runner-up
The difference in the race was Philip Barbour’s ability to put three runners in the top 15, while the other two teams only put two in the top 15.
Philip Barbour 2011 West Virginia AA-A Cross Country State Champions
Even though cross country just ended, it’s never too early to look ahead to track in the spring. Andrew and Will Shaffer both have lofty expectations for the season. “I would like to out and win the mile again this year, maybe even win the two mile and 800.”
Will Shaffer would also like to triple in track. “I want to try to win all three distance events in track,” he said. “My goal is to run in the 9:30s or 9:40s for the 3200 and get down into the 4:20s for the 1600.”