ONA - Region III runners ruled the individual titles among Class AAA races at the annual Geico Classic Invitational at Cabell Midland Saturday morning.
Capital junior Peyton Panger and Greenbrier East senior Levi Snedegar, both of Region III, paced the field en route to respective first-place finishes at the much heralded early-season cross country meet.
Panger entered the meet ranked fourth among AAA girls runners, according to www.runwv.com, and finished in 19:15. Winfield sophomore Brittney McMillion crossed in second place with an unofficial time of 20:13.
"It's only four seconds off my PR on this course, so I feel that I progressed really well," Panger said. "I worked a lot harder this summer. I ran a lot more miles and I'm more determined now than ever."
Capital Coach Jared Smith said he was proud to see Panger's early-season effort.
"Peyton's in exceptional good shape for the beginning of the season," he said. "She ran 19:15 today and last year at the state meet she was 19:12, so I think we're off to a good season-opener and looks good for the rest of the season.
"She was just dominant today and it was almost like a tempo run for her today. She really looks elegant. I'm really proud of her. She works hard and the rest of the girls are feeding off of it. I was real proud."
For third-ranked Snedegar, it wasn't the path to victory he planned, but he said he was pleased with the result, nonetheless.
"Usually, it's ease off in the first mile and then kick it in," he said of his typical race strategy. "I went a little too hard the first mile and backed off the second mile, then kicked it in in the third."
"It's a nice benchmark," Snedegar said of his 16:33 finishing time. "I would have liked to have it a little closer to 16:20, 16:15, but high mileage, a humid day, me running stupid that first mile, I got to be happy with it."
Along the way, Snedegar said he fed off fellow runner Jonathan Kissel, a junior from Thomas Worthington (Ohio), who finished second, 12 seconds behind Snedegar.
"The kid from Thomas Worthington was such a great runner," Snedegar said. "It was great to have him with me, pushing me the whole way. We definitely made each other better today."
Thomas Worthington claimed the team title in the AAA boys race, while host Midland finished second.