PCHS CC crosses the finish line of a successful season

Pocahontas County High School cross country runners Mateus Stitzinger, Dakin Rexrode and Silas Riley lead a pack of 96 runners in the Fishburne Cross Country Invitational. Photo courtesy of Kevin Stitzinger

Kevin Stitzinger
Cross Country Coach

It has been a hectic, yet very rewarding, fall – a fall that raced by as I watched the Pocahontas Coun-ty Warriors Cross Country team wrap up its first season. These are amazing runners. They pushed through the heat, rain, mud and cold during practices and competitions of the final weeks of a season that culminated with each member running their fastest 5K ever at their final race of the year.

After a tough race course comprised of rocky terrain at the Frankford Invitational, the team regrouped and experienced their first race across the gently rolling features of the well-manicured grass course at the Cherry Hill Country Club during the Richwood Invitational. Out of 38 runners our Warriors finished: 22nd Silas Riley, 23:47; 25th Dakin Rexrode, 24:35; 28th Mateus Stitzinger, 26:19; 36th Ayden Carroll, 29:57

In late September we participated in Tucker Community Foundation’s Run For It event in Davis to raise funds in support of our team. This was a road race 5K with 514 runners on the starting line. It was a wonderful experience in many ways: a well laid out course, and cash donation awards distributed to our team and the many others that participated. It was a particularly enjoyable race for me as I was able to run with the team.

The team finished: 25th Coach Stitzinger, 21:15; 59th Mateus Stitzinger, 23:36; 65th Dakin Rexrode, 24:03.  

The next race in Hampshire County was run in unusual weather for October. The 88 degree heat and 75 percent humidity slowed runners as they competed on a course that was mostly open field with a couple of refreshing patches of forest shade. Out of 69 runners the team finished: 60th Silas Riley, 25:22; 66th Mateus Stitzinger, 27:20.

However, the most exciting race of the year came on October 16 after 10 days of rest and recovery in a process known to runners as peaking, which puts each member into their absolute best physical condition as they enter their final competition of a season. For PCHS this was the Fishburne Invitational in Waynesboro, Virginia. Our Warriors made the most of this run across the rolling fields of Coyner Springs Park and the comfortable, overcast, 60 degree day alongside 96 runners and finished: 50th Mateus Stitzinger, 23:10; 53rd Silas Riley, 23:25; 55th Dakin Rexrode, 23:43.

Unfortunately, we did not get to run at our West Virginia Regional meet because we did not have enough members on the team. We hope to increase the size of the boys team and add a girls team next fall. If you know anyone interested in joining, please contact me at kevin.stitzinger@k12.wv.us

In the end it was a great season that only happened because of the generosity of many people who donated their time or services to guide a new coach and a new team toward success.

The support of the following individuals helped these runners this year, and it has set us up for future success: Pocahontas County Board of Education staff and Pocahontas County High School staff, including Kristin Kennison, Joe Riley, Kristy Tritapoe, Kim Rao and Abe Rittenhouse, who guided me through paperwork and went out of their way to bring this team up to the caliber of the other PCHS teams in a hurry; Seneca Creek Physical Therapy who helped keep our runners on their feet and moving forward; The Pocahontas Times, Tucker Community Foundation, McDonough Foundation, Pocahontas County Commission, Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation Board, Cathy Mossesso, Richard and Ellen Douglas, Gibbs and Cheryl Kinderman, William Lipps, Todd Rogers, Bruce and Freda McKean, Sue Shears, Diane Morris, Maxine War-ner, David Rexrode, First Tracts Reality, Pam and Dave Vansordale, Joe and Sarah Riley, David and Melissa Rexrode and Cree Lahti.

Running is about more than any one race. Running is about living healthier, happier, hopefully longer lives. It is about developing the drive to push oneself to get out there even though the weather is not great, or you may not feel your best today. It is about learning that effort today pays off in the long run.  Likewise, cross country is about more than the fun of a fall sport. It is about better overall conditioning. In March these runners will join the rest of the track team to achieve more personal successes and help support the success of their classmates. You can join members of both PCHS cross country and track teams for a 5K run/walk Saturday, November 24, for the track team’s annual Turkey Trot fund-raiser event. The race starts at 1 p.m. at Green Bank Observatory. Contact dilleyand pchstrack@yahoo.com for information and register at runreg.com  We hope you will join us.

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