CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The race for the Single-A boys track & field team state title was projected to be close.
And it was for most of the way.
Doddridge County and Ritchie County battled back-and-forth all day long. The long-time rivals, who finished with just two points of separation in the 2019 state meet, wrote another chapter in the history of this rivalry.
The Bulldogs, though, had more ink with which to write.
Bobby Burnside’s group did it again.
Victories in the 4×100 and 4×200 relay events proved to pay big dividends for Doddridge County, which finished the day with a team score of 122.50. That was nearly 30 points ahead of Rick Haught’s Ritchie County Rebels (95.50), though the separation between the two programs was much closer than the score indicated.
“We were here in 2019 and won by two points, the championship, and this being our school’s tenth (boys) title, I’m savoring it,” said Bobby Burnside.
Ritchie County got off to a great start, as Gus Morrison and Olivia Cress placed first in the opening events of the day — boys long jump and girls high jump.
Cress finished the day with four state titles: high jump, 100 hurdle, 300 hurdle and long jump. Morrison added three more state titles to Ritchie County’s ledger: 110 hurdle, 300 hurdle and long jump.
“I hit the hurdle a little wobbly but I landed and I recovered and I pushed through with everything I had and my strength in my legs, I’ve been building it up all year long, and I just gave it everything I had,” Cress said.
“In trials, my first two I scratched and I knew I had to get a good jump in to at least go to finals or I was out so I just marked my steps off and just ran and jumped from a foot in front of the board and jumped that 21,” said Morrison.
Cress (40) and Morrison (31) each were awarded the classification’s individual high-point award.
The Rebels boys earned a second-place finish for the second-consecutive state meet, in what will go down as one of the most successful years in Ritchie County High School athletics history.
Craig Kellar’s Lady Bulldogs claimed second place in the state as a team. They finished in the Top 3 in five different events in the final session of the day.
The Doddridge County boys built steam as the day went on. The Bulldogs swept the pole vault, as Abby McDonough took top spot in the event for the girls, and Reese Burnside earned the top spot for the boys.
Burnside goes back to West Union with the gold medal around his neck, but no state record, which he was aiming for.
“It just means a lot that I could get first place. I mean I couldn’t do it without God or my family or any of that. It’s just a big accomplishment regardless of the height,” Reese said.
The tides turned for good against the Rebels in the shortest relays of the day, as Doddridge County’s boys relay units overcame early deficits to run away from the field. The 4×200 relay put ten points of separation between the Bulldogs and Ritchie County.
The championship was sealed at that point.
“People say track is an individual sport, but it is very much an individual and a team sport,” said Bobby Burnside. “We’re just fortunate to be in Doddridge County where track is very, very important. And there’s a tradition in Doddridge, and we’re blessed to get the athletes out that we have.”
Bulldogs runners won their third relay of the championship in the day’s last event, the 4×400, to further the gap between them and the Rebels.
It wasn’t as close as it was two years ago, but the Bulldogs and Rebels battled the whole way.
For complete Single-A results, click on this link.