MORRISTOWN - Belmont County has boasted quality cross country runners and programs for many years.
The county championship - held at muggy Union Local High School Wednesday night - proved that this year's season of long distance running isn't only quality, but there's also quantity.
Both the boys and girls' championships, which were delayed nearly an hour because of storms and eventually ran together, came down to two points separating the top two teams.
MARTINS FERRY’S Jacob Bishop races to the finish line with a second-place finish in the Belmont County Cross Country Championship held Wednesday afternoon at Union Local High School.
The Bellaire girls, who won the Buckeye 8 Championship last Saturday, brought home the county hardware as well, fighting off Shadyside, 50-52 for the title.
The Martins Ferry boys, which finished third in the Buckeye 8, edged St. Clairsville, 41-43 for the crown.
Coach Chris Arno's talented and youthful Lady Reds had four runners inside the top 15, which sparked them to the crown.
Leading the way once again was junior Danielle Stoner, who turned in a 23:10 to finish third overall. Right behind her was frosh Shaye Beckett, who ran a 23:13.
Freshman Rylie Purtiman was sixth in 23:40 and Taylor Stoner, another frosh, placed eighth in 24:11. Junior Dallas Messenger rounded out the Lady Reds' scoring with a 30th overall place.
Shadyside, which has had a strong early season as well, is also young. The Lady Tigers were led by freshman Madison Miller who was second overall in 22:56.
Sophomore McKayla Kinemond was sixth in 23:37 and Ashley Visnic was third on her team and 11th overall in 24:38.
Martins Ferry finished third overall and once again was led by senior Jamie Truchan, who captured her second meet championship in as many meets.
Truchan toured the Union Local campus in 22:15. Lindsey Cunningham was 10th overall in 24:35 and Alyssa Kalinski was 13th in 24:57.
St. Clairsville was led by Joanna Vincenzo's 12th place finish in 24:49 and Sam Harrison's 15th place finish in 25:46.
Union Local, which finished fifth in the team scoring based on the sixth runner tiebreaker, was led Megan Bateman, who was seventh in 23:58 and Aubrey Snider's ninth place finish in 24:31. Anna Frazier was 14th in 25:21.
The Purple Rider boys used a flurry of freshman at the front of the pack to edge past the Red Devils for the team crown.
Freshmen Jacob Bishop, Terrell Tuttle and Jeffery Lucas finished second, fifth and seventh, respectively to lead the way. Bishop turned in a 19:19 for the silver. Tuttle was clocked in 19:40 and Lucas ran a 20:14.
Theo Zoumpolidis was the fourth Ferry runner to cross the line, placing 11th overall in 21:26. Rounding out the scoring for Coach Chrissy Lewis' squad was frosh Taylor Fogle, who was 17th overall.
St. Clairsville was led once again by senior leader Alex Timko. He, like Truchan, added the county title to his Buckeye 8 crown with a time of 19:14.
Sophomore Logan McCort was fourth overall in 19:39, while freshman Kevin Simpson was ninth in 20:46. Chandler Kilburn was 14th and third for the Devils in 21:15.
Shadyside was led by freshman Josh Kahl, who posted a 20:35, which was good for eighth overall. Mark Fahey was 12th overall and second for the Tigers in 21:32. Chad Snyder was 13th in 21:47.
Union Local was paced by Caleb Hayes, who placed sixth in 19:44. Justin Bolt was 10th in 21:15.
Barnesville's Mason Moore raced to a bronze medal, crossing the line as the clock turned to 19:34.
Bellaire was led by Luc Messenger, who was 15th overall in 22:14.
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com