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Ailing Grafton repeats as champs

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

ELKINS -- It didn't matter that Grafton's top runner likely was suffering from strep throat and a temperature hovering over 100 degrees, or that another was still ailing from an injury sustained earlier in the season and two others exhibited flu-like symptoms.

Despite all this, not to mention battling a state field, the Bearcats were still too much, winning their second consecutive girls Class AA-A state cross country championship with a 27-point win over Ritchie County at Davis & Elkins College.

Grafton's Sherri Flohr and Heather McDaniel finished third and eighth, respectively, for the Bearcats, who finished with 36 points. Ritchie County was a distant second at 63.

"I'm pretty sure I've got strep throat, and my mom neglected to tell me my temperature was around 100 this morning," Flohr said. "I wasn't feeling too good. When I crossed the line, I basically passed out. My tongue went numb when I was running up the hill, so I knew something was wrong."

Grafton's girls team placed five runners in the top 20.

"There's a lot of pressure (winning a second consecutive title)," Grafton coach Paul Martin said. "You could see it on their faces. They knew they had a task at hand. It wasn't one of our best races, but it was still very dominating.

"It's impressive when you can win a meet like this by 27 points."

Fayetteville's Jessica Taylor won her fourth consecutive Class AA-A title, winning with a time of 21:07.5. Ritchie County's Missy Spangler (21:37.6) finished second.

While Grafton continued its domination in girls Class AA-A, Doddridge County had its streak of four consecutive team titles snapped. The Bulldogs Denny Hayes finished first with a time of 17:47.2 and teammate Josh Sheets was third at 17:53.6, but Doddridge County couldn't hold off rival Ravenswood, which finished with 56 points -- seven points ahead of Doddridge County.

"There's a little mixed emotions," Hayes said. "We felt like we deserved it, but (Ravenswood) ran a good race. They wanted it more than we did.

"As far as my time goes, I'm happy with it. I didn't think I could go that low on this course."

In boys Class AAA, Cabell Midland finished with 53 points, 37 points ahead of defending state champ, Fairmont Senior. Parkersburg won the girls Class AAA with 61 points. Defending girls Class AAA champion East Fairmont was second with 74.

Fairmont Senior's Jay Urse was first in Class AAA with a time of 17:17.6. Hampshire's Susan Davis was first in 20:07.6 in girls Class AAA, finishing just ahead of her twin sister, Jennifer (20:21.4).

Robert C. Byrd's Stephanie Hatfield earn all-state honors for the second year in a row, placing seventh with a time of 22:12.3.

"Stephanie ran very well," Robert C. Byrd coach Bob Steele said. "She ran her best time ever at that course, so that's some indication of how well the entire field ran.

"Stephanie ran right where we thought she'd be. I think if she would've had her teammates she might've ran a little better."

Bridgeport's Theresa Melko finished fifth in Class AA-A in 22:30.1, while Grafton's John Riffle (18:24.8) was fifth for the Bearcats boys team which placed third overall. Gilmer County freshman Nick Dent (18:43.4) was ninth to earn all-state honors.

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

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