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Prep cross country: Winfield boys, girls win at Camp Virgil Tate

By Nick Brockman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Winfield carried the banner at Capital's Raising the Bar Invitational as both the Generals boys and girls cross country teams achieved wins at the meet held at Camp Virgil Tate on Wednesday.

The Generals girls (third) and boys (fifth) entered the meet ranked among the state's top-five AAA programs, according to www.runwv.com, and proved their rankings worthy. Cougars junior Peyton Panger won the individual girls title in 20:19, while Buffalo sophomore Hayden Harrison won the boys race with a time of 17:45.

"They did wonderfully, they did great," Winfield Coach Kelsey Spang said of her girls squad. "I was very, very, very proud."

Freshman Alyssa Rittinger placed third overall in 21:43 and led the Generals effort.

"As a freshman, that's quite an accomplishment -- for anybody," Spang said. "She came across the line, she was all smiles and gave me a big hug.

"She was just so happy. She's a solid, solid runner and I could tell from the beginning of the season that she was going to do something big for our team and today, she showed her true colors."

Winfield's Brittney McMillion, Rachael Englund, Darian Wikel and Barkley Castro each followed among the top 11 finishers.

For Capital's Panger, the win marked her fifth individual title in as many meets. Panger ranks second among AAA girls statewide behind only University senior Amelia Paladino.

"She's on a great run," Capital Coach Jared Smith said of Panger. "I have more belief in her than I ever have that with her being on a roll and being so positive, I really think that she's going to accomplish that ultimate goal.

"Obviously, she wants to be all-state, and she wants her girls team to make it to the state meet, but she wants to take out those Morgantown girls and ultimately try and go after Paladino."

In the girls team standings, second-ranked Class AA-A Charleston Catholic finished second ahead of sixth-ranked Ravenswood and several AAA schools.

A steep course and hot conditions resulted in slower times across the field, but Irish Coach Scott Welch said he felt positive of his team's performance.

"They really gutted it out and got the most out of it what they could do on this day," he said. "I was real proud of them, because they ran a good race."

Winfield boys Coach Shawn Anderson also cited the difficult conditions.

"I felt overall we completed well - it was hot, plus the course here is tough," he said.

The Winfield wins came on short rest after competing at the Hurricane Invitational Saturday. At that meet, the Generals boys edged the seventh-ranked Redskins for the win, while the Winfield girls placed second behind host, AAA No. 2 Hurricane by four points.

"We had a hard workout Monday and I knew the boys would be tired, so we basically ran this meet with very little recovery from this past Saturday," Anderson said. "Overall, though (I was) pleased. We have a long way to go, but I'm pleased with the direction we are going."

Sophomore R.J. Weiford paced the Generals with his second-place finish in 17:52.

"He has made so many strides since last year," Anderson said of Weiford. "He worked extremely hard in the offseason, went to some running camps and has really dedicated himself.

"He's leaps and bounds ahead of where he was last year, and he just leads by example. He doesn't say a whole lot, just a good, good kid, and he'll do anything that you ask him to do."

Freshmen Matt Durgin and Desean Williams followed in 13th and 14th, as the Generals followed Weiford in a pack mentality, with Winfield's top seven runners finishing in the top 26 of 133 finishers.

Behind the Winfield boys, host Capital placed second with top-10 performances by senior Marshall Sharp (fourth) and junior Michael Ruhnke (10th).

Capital's regional rival Ripley placed third. Charleston Catholic and Buffalo rounded out the top five boys teams, placing ahead of several AAA schools. Senior Caden McClanahan led the Irish effort with a sixth-place finish.


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