WEST UNION, W.Va. - At least on paper, the reign of domination by the St. Marys cross country teams very well could come to an end early this evening when the annual Little Kanawha Conference championships take place at Doddridge County Park.
Led by three-time individual victor Maggie Drazba, the Blue Devil girls have captured the last four team titles while the boys have been victorious each of the past three years. However, the Blue Devil boys aren't ranked in the top 10 in the latest runwv.com rankings while the girls are rated seventh in the state behind No. 4 Williamstown and No. 6 Ravenswood.
"The girls, you know, we've been battling with Williamstown pretty close all year and Ravenswood as well," said SMHS head coach Glenda Cottrill. "I think it's going to be a battle between the three teams to win it.
"It will be interesting to see how this plays out. We're going to have to have all of our cards on the table to pull it off. I think everybody is healthy now. I think we'll be at our best this week as far as the boys are concerned."
Doddridge County enters the LKC championships with the No. 4 ranked boys team in the state and is followed by No. 8 Williamstown and No. 10 Ritchie County. Less than two weeks ago at the Ritchie County Invitational, it was St. Marys which had the best finish of all the LKC schools.
"This is probably the most wide open it's been in a while and you can't fully ever count out Ravenswood lurking in the background," said Bulldog head coach Craig Kellar.
While Drazba is the top overall female runner in the Mountain State, the Bulldogs have been led by senior Caleb Moore. Moore, ranked fifth in Class AA/A according to runwv.com, has been in close battles all year long with Ritchie County's Johnny Hogue. The junior Hogue, who beat Moore by nine seconds at the Ritchie County Invitational and by just seven ticks last weekend at the Times Invitational in Fairmont, is ranked second in Class AA/A.
"It should be a good race," Kellar added of the Moore/Hogue battle. "Hogue is a good all around athlete and he's pretty nifty I'm sure on hill and turns.
"Maybe eventually Caleb will get him once, but Caleb will give it his best. He's a senior, but Hogue's good and Jordan Whitehair (of St. Marys) has been running good."
Aside from Drazba, Ravenswood is led by sophomore Hailey Miller and Williamstown has been paced by junior Cami Mossor. Miller is ranked ninth in the state while Mossor currently checks in at No. 16. The top dozen individual runners today will earn all-LKC accolades for both the boys and girls.
"It should be a great battle between us, Williamstown and St. Marys," said Ravenswood head coach Bryan Canterbury, whose girls team hasn't won the LKC since 1993 when Tim Rector was the head man. Also, the Yellowjacket girls haven't claimed the title since 1995 when Ashley Lauderman won it and helped lead WHS to victory.
"If you just look at the runner rankings on paper Williamstown wins," Canterbury added.
"In sports, competition isn't won on paper. You have to go out there and earn it and take it from somebody."
Action is expected to begin at 4:30 p.m. with the boys race followed by the girls.