MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When the high school cross country season gets underway next Wednesday, attention will once again be on the University cross country program.
The boys are the defending state champs, and the girls finished as state runner-up last year, ending a streak of five-straight Triple-A titles.
“Boys side – everybody returned. So we didn’t lose anybody, nobody graduated or anything like that,” said head coach Ed Frohnapfel. “We got a really solid top five. Our top five has kind of moved around a little bit based on what the state championship team was, but they’re all still there.”
“Girls side – three-time all-state Caroline Kirby is back. Shelby Davis made a huge improvement since last year. Hermione Vos is a senior, and she’s probably in better shape at this point in time than she has previously.”
The boys are led by juniors Rocco DeVincent, and West Virginia Boys Cross Country Gatorade Athlete of the Year, Josh Edwards.
“Always the state title is going to be in the back of our minds, especially since we won it last year,” said Edwards. “(We are) trying to repeat that and make our place in the state. We know that we have to live up to a standard that UHS has put, and it doesn’t require Ed talking to us about it. We just kind of all know that that’s the standard for UHS.”
Frohnapfel knows that Edwards and DeVincent are special runners that he has for this year and next.
“Josh is a hard worker, talent — physically talented, genetically talented kind of guy. Rocco’s kind of the same ballpark, he works super hard,” said the head coach.
DeVincent and Edwards are joined by Jordan Thomas as standouts on the boys squad.
Frohnapfel has led the Hawks to a combined five state championships since taking over the program in 2015. That includes four titles for the lady Hawks, who, led by senior Caroline Kirby, are looking to add to the trophy case this season.
“This is the first year I’ve actually run consistently with the boys, which is kind of exciting. They definitely push me and I think they’ll make me a lot better,” said Kirby when asked about keeping up with the boys team during practice Tuesday.
“They don’t want me to beat them. I really don’t want them to beat me. They’re my teammates, too. I think we all just try to push each other, and try to keep everyone accountable.”
Kirby also spoke on staying motivated to continue the legacy of the University girls cross country program.
“We look in the year’s past, and look at all the accomplishments we’ve had over the past five, six years, and it really motivates us,” said Kirby. “Just motivates us to have another team title and keep the legacy going.”
Both Hawks squads are motivated for this season, not only to either repeat, or re-claim, the title of the top Triple-A program in the state, but because they missed out on the track & field season in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down spring sports.
The Hawks are hungry, motivated, and Frohnapfel, feels talented enough to stay on top for this year and more.