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Grafton, Doddridge claim regional titles

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

FAIRMONT -- In performances that looked more businesslike than challenging, Doddridge County's boys and Grafton's girls cross country teams did little to refute their status as the state's top teams in Class AA-A.

The Bulldogs' Denny Hayes and Josh Sheets finished 1-2 as Doddridge County fin-

ished with a team score of 51 points -- 20 points ahead of runner-up Grafton in the Region 2 championship. Both teams will now advance to next week's state championship in Elkins.

In the girls, the Bearcats' Sherri Flohr and Heather McDaniel led another dominating performance. Flohr finished first with a time of 20:19.4, while McDaniel was third at 21:14.2 for Grafton which finished with 37 points. Ritchie County was a distant second at 79.

East Fairmont and Fairmont Senior dominated the Class AAA field.

The Bees won with a score of 44 points, while Elkins was second at 62. The Polar Bears won the boys division with 38 points -- 28 points ahead of second place East Fairmont.

The Bearcats' top seven girls runners finished ahead of the remainder of the field's top four.

Both Doddridge County and Grafton head into next week's state meet as the No. 1 ranked teams.

Hayes, the state's No. 2 runner in AA-A finished in 17:22.1, while Sheets followed at 17:25.7.

"The time was a little slower than I wanted," Hayes said. "It wasn't too great, but it was enough.

"You still have to come in with the right attitude. A lot of (running) is in your head."

The top eight runners also advance to next week's championship. Among them are freshman standout Nick Dent of Gilmer County. Dent finished fourth at 17:44.2, just ahead of teammate Anthony Ramezan (17:50.3).

Grafton's boys team was led by sophomore John Riffle, who finished sixth at 17:52.7 and freshman Scott Gemberling (ninth, 18:06.6).

"These kids have had a lot of frustrations," Grafton coach Paul Martin said, referring to his boys team. "We've had numerous kids just a step away from qualifying for the state meet before.

"The boys really got to know each other this summer and got faith in each other. By no means was there any animosity toward the girls team, but (the boys) wanted a piece of the pie, too."

Grafton's girls team placed four runners in the top 10 finishers.

Junior Tia Lafferty was seventh at 22:08.6, while Gayle Tighe finished ninth in 22:30.

In addition, Bridgeport's Theresa Melko posted an impressive time of 21:41 -- good enough for fourth and a trip to Elkins. Doddridge County's Lori Coffman was sixth in 21:57.9

In Class AAA, Stephanie Hatfield led Robert C. Byrd which finished a respectable third. Hatfield was fourth with a time of 20:58.9, while teammate Rachel Brown fell just short of qualifying with a ninth place finish of 22:08.3

Elkins' Zia Wharton (20:18.) and Ashley Varian (20:20.9) were first and second, while East Fairmont's Tyler Devault (16:43.5) won the boys. Buckhannon-Upshur's Chris Perry (17:59.2) was third.

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

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