Prep cross country: Winfield boys, girls do well at meet
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- High school cross country teams train and practice for two meets each season in the regional, and hopefully state championship, and if the regular season proves the proper primer, Winfield figures to be among teams at the podium.
The Generals girls squad captured the team championship at Saturday's Chick-fil-A Invitational in Mineral Wells, while the boys finished second at the meet behind only Parkersburg.
"Our goal is to take every day one at a time, but not lose sight of our ultimate goal of making a showing at the state meet," Winfield girls Coach Kelsey Spang said. "However, my expectation for the team is to work and train hard at practice. The way our season spans out, we must train through these first couple of meets, because we want to make sure we hit our peak come time for the regional and state meets."
Winfield's girls entered the weekend ranked second in the state, according to www.runwv.com, and the Generals beat third-ranked Hampshire County by 34 points on Saturday. Sophomores Brittney McMillion and Rachel Englund finished fifth and seventh respectively to pace Winfield to victory.
"Both Brittney and Rachael know that when it comes down to race time, they have a job to do," Spang said. "They know from their experience that they have to get out hard and get out fast in a race. They are both strategic runners."
Meanwhile, freshman Alyssa Rittinger has strategically placed herself among the Generals top contributors. Rittinger finished 15th at Saturday's meet, after finishing 12th at the GEICO Classic Invitational.
"Alyssa is making some noise and solid performances for the team with each practice and race she runs," Spang said. "She is a blood and guts runner. She has the heart of a tough runner who will pick off opponents one by one. She is and will be an integral part of our team, something that many can't say about a freshman."
Youth plays a pivotal role with the Winfield girls, though the team boasts experience too in seniors Barkley Castro and Darian Wikel. Sophomore Nikki Shrader has been a consistent top contributor this season thus far as well.
On the boys side, sophomore R.J. Weiford (fourth) and freshman Braxton McMillion (seventh) paced sixth-ranked Winfield at the Chick-fil-A meet.
Generals boys Coach Shawn Anderson said Weiford finished last season strong and has continued to cement his position as a top runner.
"He's really worked hard in the offseason, went to some running camps and he's really dedicated himself to running," Anderson said. "The work he's put in during the offseason is really showing up right now and it's really helped him a lot."
Anderson added he's been particularly impressed by the work ethic of Braxton McMillon and junior Tony Salgado, while senior Richard Roda and freshmen Matt Durgin, DeSean Williams and J.T. Erskine consistently produce solid results. Overall, the entire team has done its part to encourage each other, Anderson said.
"They really, really take to heart what they do at practice," Anderson said. "They constantly are pushing each other and are on each other about getting better. I thought, at this point, we would probably be not as advanced as what we are right now, but they haven't backed down from any of the workouts."
Running together the boys and girls squads prepare for success side by side, Anderson said.
"Our boys and girls work together at practice, we travel together - we're just one big family," he said. "I think that means a lot with the cohesiveness they have."
Together, the teams train in the present, planning for greater results later this season when it counts the most.
"There's a lot, a lot of good teams out there, so we definitely have our work cut out for us," Anderson said, "but we look forward to the challenge the rest of the season."
Both Winfield squads will next compete at the Ripley Covered Bridge Invitational on Sept. 21.