Local high school cross country teams and runners could have a major impact on Saturday's Class AA/A state championship meet slated to begin with the girls race at 1 p.m. in Ona at Cabell Midland High School.
Little Kanawha Conference girls champion Williamstown, led by hopeful all-stater Cami Mosser who was 15th at last year's state meet, is ranked third behind Charleston Catholic and expected state champion Philip Barbour.
For the boys, Bridgeport is predicted to claim the title by runwv.com with Fairmont Senior and LKC champion Ritchie County battling for runner-up honors.
JAY W. BENNETT Special to The Times
Williamstown’s Chandler Antill will be competing at state Saturday.
The closest area girl to finish in the top 10 last year and earn all-state honors was Ravenswood's Hailey Miller, who was 11th in 2012 and is predicted to finish fourth. Other local runners hoping for a good meet who have the best chance to make a run at the top 10 are Ravenswood's Taylor Treadway (No. 12), Doddridge County's Megan Carder (No. 19) and Tyler Consolidated's Amber Watson (No. 21).
"We're going down with the mindset to win for sure," said WHS girls head coach Jill Bryant. "I would say of the (top) three teams we are definitely the healthiest. All three teams in the running clearly have talent.
"But, as far as being healthy is concerned I think we have a little bit of an edge there, an open window if you want to call it, and we intend to jump through it."
Bryant's squad successfully defending their LKC crown this year and hope to continue the momentum on Saturday.
"We've set these girls to peak at the right time and they are consistently improving," Bryant added. "Cami is intending to break her own PR and I think she will.
"Honestly, these girls have put in the hours and hours and hours and have worked really hard and I think it's going to show."
Johnny Hogue has a chance to end his career at Ritchie County on a high note. The Rebel senior, who is coming off wins at the LKC and in the regional, is expected to battle top-ranked Abe Merinar of Bridgeport for the Class AA/A crown. Hogue was third last year while Merinar was ninth.
"Johnny is a big team player and he really wants his team up there with him," said Rebel head coach Holli Haddox Vaughan, whose Rebels also feature eighth-ranked sophomore Daniel Cooper.
"We were just eight points behind Fairmont (at the regional) and we are going to go after them and while we are at it try to go after Bridgeport, too. We'll have to wait and see how things fall in place."
A trio of other LKC runners are hoping things fall in place for them.
Wirt County junior Glenn McMillan is tyring to become the first Tiger in the four-year history of the program to earn all-state accolades.
McMillan is ranked 10th, just ahead of No. 11 Caleb Pell of Roane County and No. 12 Chandler Antill of Williamstown.
"Glenn's got a really good shot and he's hoping to get a little higher than 10th, maybe shoot for the top seven-eight, but top 10 is the ultimate goal," said Tiger head coach Lacey Mills, who watched McMillan finish 15th last fall.
"He's been working hard all season and I think he's got a really good shot at making it happen on Saturday."
The boys race will conclude the cross country season and is slated to begin at 1:45 p.m.