MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Triple-A cross country runs through the city of Morgantown.
We covered the University Hawks‘ dominance on Wednesday, and now take a look at the Morgantown Mohigans.
University and Morgantown combined to win every Class AAA cross country state title over the last decade, and are two of the favorites heading into this season once again.
The lady Mohigans are looking to repeat as state champs.
“I definitely think we’re able to win again this year,” said sophomore Irene Riggs. “We’ve seen the girls work really hard this year, and everybody’s really been pushing each other in the workouts. It’s been, I think, even more motivating right now given the current situation, because it gives us something to look forward to during this time. And, yeah, I definitely think that we can go back and win the championship again.”
The Morgantown boys won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017, and finished runner-up last year to cross-town rival University.
MHS head coach Michael Ryan says that seniors Jackson Snyder and Quinn Jacquez will help lead the Mohigans on the course this fall.
“We have a real solid group of seniors this year,” Ryan said. “They’ve kind of brought that group together, and they’ve been training really hard over the summer. Our strength is going to be our depth. I think that we do have is really solid. They’ve improved. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in our 4 and 5 runners from last year.”
Ryan says that getting a chance to be at the top of the podium this year has been a motivator in the offseason.
“It’s been on their minds. It’s been on their mind since we started this – since we started getting going back in (June),” said Ryan. “It’s obviously going to be a little bit different. But I’ve told them since the beginning, if they have a state championship they’re going to hand out a trophy. That’s going to be their goal. They’ve worked really hard.”
The lady Mohigans are led by two of the top runners in the state: Riggs, who finished third overall at the state meet last year; and the state’s reigning West Virginia Girls Cross Country Gatorade Athlete of the Year, junior Lea Hatcher.
“Goals are still the same. There’s still going to be a state championship, so, that’s something that our team has really been focusing on,” said Hatcher. “We’ve done a good job of pushing each other this summer. That’s something that we’ve kind of had as our outlook during the quarantine, is running. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to train, and get some good runs in.”
Hatcher not only was crowned the top runner in the state by Gatorade, but also finished first overall at the state meet — 10 seconds ahead of teammate, and Kentucky commit Athena Young –, as the lady Mohigans swept the top three spots.
And if it’s possible, the two young runners may have gotten even better over the long offseason.
“Lea and Irene have made some big improvements. They’ve come into this season faster than they were last season,” said Ryan. “I’m really excited to see them get out there.”
The cross country season gets started on Wednesday, with both the University Hawks, and the Morgantown Mohigans, expected to once again be towards the top on both the boys’ and girls’ side.