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Boker, Hatfield win county titles

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

With little effort and nearly as little competition, Bridgeport's John Boker and Robert C. Byrd's Stephanie Hatfield won the boys and girls Harrison County cross country meet Monday at Veterans' Memorial Park in Clarksburg.

Boker won the boys meet with a time of 17:43 -- a full minute ahead of teammate Jay Cann (18:44). The Indians won the meet, which featured just two full teams with 18 points. Robert C. Byrd followed with 45 points.

Behind Hatfield, the Eagles won the girls division with 19 points. Bridgeport finished with 40 points.

Despite their efforts, both Boker and Hatfield said the meet was more of a tune-up for the final stretch of the cross country season. The Big 10 meet is Thursday at the Taylor County Fairground, and the regionals are next week for both teams.

"It's a lot harder to get a better time at a meet like this with no one pushing you," Boker said. "I wasn't real happy with my time. A couple of days ago I ran a lot better in the Applebutter 5K.

"I like this course. It's nice and flat, and I usually run a lot better on these type of courses. I feel like I'm ready for regionals, but this isn't really a good measure."

Robert C. Byrd's Ryan Sullivan was third at 18:47, while Bridgeport took the next seven positions. The Indians' Ryan Bean (19:04), Brant Edgell (19:50), Jeremy Shahan (20:14), Brink Murray (20:16), Jordan Bable (20:30), Andrew Recktenwald (22:07) and Drex Rhoades (22:36) made up the top 10 finishers.

Hatfield set a new course record, breaking her own previous mark of 19:53 set three weeks ago. Hatfield won Monday with a time of 19:40, while Bridgeport's Theresa Melko was second at 20:37.

Robert C. Byrd, ranked No. 10 in the latest RunWV.com poll, took spots three through seven. Rachel Brown was third at 21:52, followed by freshman Celia Gottschling (21:55), Liann Gottschling (22:41), Nai Ying Chao (23:30) and Britney Amodio (24:08).

"Even though I know there's not going to be competition right on me, I still have that thought that someone could come up on me at any minute," Hatfield said. "That's what pretty much keeps me going. I run scared.

"I think I'm doing the same thing I was last year -- I'm peaking at the right time. You don't want to peak early in the season and push yourself too hard. Now I'm at the point where I'm going to run the races the way I need to run them."

The top three finishers in both divisions were named to the all Harrison County team. Joining Bridgeport's Boker and Cann on the boys team was Robert C. Byrd's Ryan Sullivan. Hatfield, Melko and Brown made up the girls team.

"They all (set personal records). Stephanie knows what to do, but our real job is going to be beating Elkins to take the team to states," RCB coach Bob Steele said. "We're about eight places behind them right now, but anything can happen."

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at sports@exponent-telegram.com.

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