Tribe Boys, Girls Cross Country Teams Finish as Top 'AA-A' Teams in Big Saturday Mineral Wells Meet

By Jeff Toquinto on September 12, 2017 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

In the Class AA-A field at the Chick-fil-A Invitational at Mineral Wells Saturday, Bridgeport’s boys and girls found themselves finishing in a familiar sport – at the top. The boys returned to the No. 1 spot after finishing second in ‘AA-A’ a week ago, while the girls continued their unbeaten string in the Class AA-A portion of competition in 2017.
 
On the boys’ side, Parkersburg was the overall winner with 78 points followed by Preston (129), Cabell Midland (137), and Parkersburg South (177). The Indians were next with 198 in the No. 5 spot, while Winfield was the next team and the next ‘AA’ team with 268.
 
“The boys had a pretty good day on Saturday overall.  We had a few suffering from the sinus and congestion thing that is going around, but all in all it was a good day,” said Griffith.  “We had 21 boys, out of the 28 that raced, get career bests at the race.  You can’t do a whole lot better than that.”
 
The Indians fared well against a 32-team field that featured some of the top squads in the state. Griffith said there were four of the top 10 teams in the state in both Class AAA and in the AA-A divisions.
 
“I think that qualifies as a competitive meet,” said Griffith.
 
Senior Mark Duez was extremely competitive for the boys. His fourth place overall finish of 16 minutes, 9.4 seconds set the all-time 5K cross country record for BHS that was previously held by Abe Merinar. Merinar set the mark of 16 minutes, 20.05 seconds at the 2013 state meet.
 
“Mark had a great run.  He is looking strong and we believe he will continue to improve through the end of the season,” said Griffith.
 
Griffith has praise for many others as well.
 
“First year cross country runners Jackson Jacobs, Jon Luke Massie and Tristan Shaw continue to improve as they gain experience.  Jon Luke Massie moved up significantly to finish fourth for us. Brady Oldaker moved into seventh with Caleb Holbert right behind him in eighth,” said Griffith. “John Dolan, Landon Burns, Coleton Marsh and Ben Holbert are all pushing to get into those top 10 spots.”
 
The girls actually finished third overall in a 21-team field. Cabell Midland won with 112 points, while Parkersburg was second with 114. BHS had 131 points, which was enough to edge past Winfield with 142 and Philip Barbour at No. 5 with 154 points.
 
“The girls did great.  They continue to impress me with their progress.  Just like with the boys, the respiratory bugs are going around, but that didn’t slow them down.  We had 19 girls, out of 24 that competed, set career personal bests,” said Griffith. “You just can’t expect much more than that.”
 
The respiratory issues weren’t the only similarities. The girls had four of the top 10 Class AAA schools and four of the top schools in Class AA-A competing.
 
“It was great to get a chance to see how we stack up against some bigger schools.  We have made some significant strides, but there is still room for improvement,” said Griffith.
 
Julia Muller also turned in a near BHS historic effort. Griffith said she posted the second fastest time ever for a cross country 5K at 19 minutes, 28.4 seconds.
 
“Julia Muller had a great race on Saturday,” said Griffith. “She was only 3.4 seconds off the current record of 19 minutes, 25 seconds set by Morganne Phillips at the 2010 state meet,” said Griffith.
 
Others also fared well for BHS to have the high finish.
 
“Emma Campbell also had a great race running a 20:07.50, moving her up to fourth on the all-time list, just ahead of current senior Jenna Soltesz who is now in fifth and Erika Voreh who sits in third,” said Griffith. “With both Julia and Emma being underclassmen, we hope to see them continue to move up that list.”
 
Griffith had praise for others. He pointed to Allison Hess, Brooke Wagner, Jenna Soltesz, Haley Chamberlain and Michaela Perri as those making strides. He also added that the top runners are getting a push from Lindsay Morais, Rhe Freeman and Sarah Kinney.  
 
Bridgeport has a week off Saturday. They return to battle Sept. 23 in the Bearcat Invitational at West Taylor Elementary School. The meet begins at 9 a.m.
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Mark Duez battling for position, while Jackson Jacobs is shown in the second photo. Julia Muller is shown below.


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