The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 23, 2013

Runners hope to punch state tickets

By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald

— Levi Snedegar is healthy, he feels fresh and he says he’s ready to go.

Snedegar, the Greenbrier East senior cross country standout, will lead his team into region qualifying action today as high school runners from across the state battle the courses, the conditions and fellow competitors for the right to extend their 2013 season by one more week.

Saying he’s “healed up” from small injuries that nagged him and kept him out of some meets early in the season, Snedegar said Wednesday he feels “as fresh as I’ve been since states last year.”

In 2012, Snedegar raced to a seventh-place finish at the state meet, earning all-state designation in the big schools division. He enters today’s meet as the third-ranked runner in the state behind George Washington’s Matthew Brafford and Jefferson’s Andrew Milliron, according to www.runwv.com.

Class AAA Region 3 teams will compete today at Cedar Lakes in Ripley, as will Class AA-A Region 4 schools. The AA-A girls, with a field that includes Nicholas County’s Aidan Payton (ranked 17th by www.runwv.com), will run at 2 p.m., and the AA-A boys will take off at 2:45 p.m. Following the AA-A awards ceremony, the Class AAA girls will run at 4:15 p.m., followed by the boys at 5 p.m.

At each of the regional events, individual runners in the Top 10 inclusive advance to the state meet on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Cabell Midland High School. If five full teams enter the regional race, two can qualify for states. Three teams advance if there are 6-9 full squads, and four teams move on if there are 10 or more full entrants today.

“I’m very happy with him,” Greenbrier East coach Jerry Long said of Snedegar, who is president of the GEHS Class of 2014 and is a 4.0 student. “He’s not only a good runner, but he’s a good person.

“He’s stepped up and taken charge (and been a leader). I’m really proud of the role he’s taken. And he’s real motivated and excited about running.”

Snedegar started off 2013 with a front-running performance (16 minutes, 33.61 seconds) in the Geico Classic, which is contested on the state meet course. He’s run in three other races — one in Kentucky and two at his school.

“The hay’s in the barn,” he said. “It’s time to go out and execute.”

Snedegar and the rest of the field will have their sights set on the top-ranked Brafford, who has enjoyed an outstanding senior campaign. Oak Hill junior Cody Gillespie is another runner who hopes to make some noise. Gillespie is ranked 10th by www.runwv.com.

“Cody can qualify by himself, but I sure would like to get the whole team qualified,” Oak Hill coach George Smith said. “We’re in a tough region and we’ve got some injuries.” The Red Devils will be without the services of Jacob Ashcraft, who’s sidelined with a quad injury, and the team is also dealing with some sickness.

Smith feels Oak Hill has a decent chance to finish in third place in the team competition, which would earn it a state berth. Ripley and Capital are the front-runners, he said.

For his part, Snedegar says, “I’d like to see our team qualify for states. It’s going to be close.” Other contributors for the Spartans include Levi Whitt, Jasiel Kinder, Chase Mullins, Justice Bowyer and Ryan Bashlor.

Woodrow Wilson’s Emily Fedders, ranked 14th by www.runwv.com, hopes to challenge Capital’s Peyton Panger and others for top positions on the girls side in Class AAA.

The Greenbrier East girls will be led by senior Shaye Gadomski, and Long says they have a better overall chance of advancing on the state level as a team. “The boys are going to have to bring it,” he said. “The girls are strong; they have a better chance.”

Besides Gadomski, among the others expected to be in the mix for East are twins Megan and Lauren Lindsey, Molly Reynolds and Jaelynn Parks.

The Class AA-A Region 3 championship will be held at PikeView High School, also today.

Girls action will get under way at 2 p.m., while the boys will leave the starting line at about 2:40 p.m. An awards presentation will be held in the school auditorium beginning at about 3:30 p.m.

The boys race will feature PikeView’s Jason Weitzel, ranked fourth in AA-A.

— E-mail: skeenan

@register-herald.com