By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald
PikeView High runners protected their house on Saturday.
Under ideal conditions in the Wendy’s PikeView Invitational cross country meet, Panther runners Jason Weitzel and Katelyn Odle logged winning individual performances on their home 5-kilometer course.
In Weitzel’s case, he crossed the finish line in 17 minutes, 16 seconds.
“The first mile was really fast,” said the junior. Weitzel admitted being a little gassed after that opening mile, in which he was trailed closely by Oak Hill’s Cody Gillespie (the eventual runner-up in 18:01). “I tried to slow down a little to maintain, then I caught my second wind.”
Weitzel said he was “super proud of everybody” on his team. “I’m really happy we have a team this year.”
Oak Hill claimed the team title with a score of 35 points. Trailing were: Sherman, 50; Westside, 73; PikeView, 79; Greater Beckley Christian, 140; Wyoming East, 153; Princeton, 155; and Independence, 214.
Odle, a junior, got the day started in fine fashion for the Panthers, winning the girls race in 22:25.
“I felt pretty good, and the weather was nice,” said Odle, who staved off a spirited challenge from Sherman’s Amelia Sebok (22:27) down the final stretch. “I told myself I didn’t have it (won) yet.
“Yeah, I was worried.”
“It feels good to win at home,” she added.
With 17 points, the Panthers captured the team title. Princeton (45 points) was the only other school to field a full team.
n n n
In the accompanying middle school races, the Park Middle School boys continued their strong showing in the program’s second season.
Park’s Chris Barbera steadily pulled away to register a victorious time of 11:42 in the boys race of slightly over 2 miles. Barbera battled with PikeView’s Daniel Baldwin in the early stages before taking command. Baldwin was runner-up in 12:16.
Barbera’s time set a new course record.
The Roadrunners registered a low team score of 20 points to earn the team championship. They were followed by: Shady Spring, 57; Eastern Greenbrier, 80; PikeView, 94; and Independence, 146.
In the girls division, Eastern Greenbrier’s Cami Wagner held off a challenge from Shady Spring’s Erica Hegele in the final 100 meters to earn individual spoils. Wagner ran 14:32 and Hegele 14:34.
Eastern Greenbrier claimed the girls team crown with 31 points, followed by Shady Spring (42), Park (70), PikeView (90) and Trap Hill (140).
In their last meet prior to Saturday, the Park boys placed second in a field of 42 teams in the Chick-Fil-A Invitational at Mineral Wells last Saturday.
Park’s team total of 91 points trailed only winner Winfield, which scored 46.
Park was led by Barbera, who finished second overall with a clocking of nine minutes, 49 seconds for the 3-k course. The individual winner was Milton’s Josh Minor (9:29).
Other Park runners to receive a plaque for Top 20 finishes were Danny Bickey (7th, 10:09) and Ryan Vaught (14th, 10:30).
— E-mail: skeenan@