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Defibaugh, Arnold captain All-TL CC

After an offseason filled with so many questions, area harriers got clearance to compete and made the most of the opportunity this season.

All area teams and runners made it to the finish line — figuratively and literally — this season.

Some, however, made it there faster than others. Several area runners enjoyed impressive seasons, many stretched into the regional.

Today, The Times Leader sports staff — with the help of area coaches — announces its annual All Times Leader Cross Country teams, which honors 18 of the area’s top runners and one highly successful coach.

Bellaire senior Jacob Defibaugh and Harrison Central senior Jasmine Arnold are the captains of the team, while Barnesville’s Mark Brown is the coach of the year.

Here’s a capsule look at the honorees:

JACOB DEFIBAUGH, Bellaire — This Big Reds senior put the finishing touches on a brilliant prep career last weekend at the Ohio State Cross Country Championship.

Defibaugh finished 20th in the state, earning a medal and his second All-Ohio finish. He was the OVAC Class 3A champion, Buckeye 8 Champion, Belmont County champion and district champion.

“Jacob is exactly what we hope every cross country runner at Bellaire becomes,” head coach Chris Arno said. “His work ethic is unmatched, he does the extra and he’s a student of running. He’s self-motivated and has a ton of compassion as a runner and person. He’s achieved a lot and will continue to achieve more on the course, track and in life. Jacob, the runner, will be missed, but Jacob, the person, will be missed more.”

ELI SMITH, Martins Ferry — This senior put the finishing touches on a very impressive prep career this season for the Purple Riders.

Smith’s senior season included sixth-place at the Buckeye 8, fourth at Belmont County, second at the OVCCL, fourth in OVAC Class 3A and 14th at the district.

“Eli has been running cross country for six year and he’s very dedicated to the program and loves to compete,” Ferry head coach Chrissy Lewis said. “He’s the type of kid every coach wants in their program. He had a great high-school (career).”

FRANCIS TOOHEY, Martins Ferry — This junior put forth an impressive season for the Purple Riders.

During the course of the season, Toohey finished fourth at Buckeye 8, third in Belmont County, fourth at the OVCCL, fifth in OVAC Class 3A and 24th at the district. He competed at the regional.

“Francis is a determined runner,” Lewis said. “He sets many goals for himself and is striving hard to achieve them. He’s been a huge asset to our program.”

WYATT WODARCYK, Martins Ferry — This Purple Rider standout was more than a solid contributor for Lewis’ team this season.

Wodarcyk turned in a solid resume of accolades this season, including fitth at Buckeye 8, sixth in Belmont County, sixth at OVCCL, seventh in OVAC Class 3A and 20th at the district to earn a regional trip.

“Wyatt is a fun-loving, free-spirited guy who works hard and is a joy to be around,” Lewis said. “He is never content with how he does and strives to do better all the time. He’s just started realizing how good of a runner he can be.”

HUNTER TOMICH, St. Clairsville — This Red Devil standout was the leader of the squad this season, helping his team win the OVAC title.

Tomich was 35th at the OVAC, eighth at the OVAC and 18th at the district. He competed at the regional meet.

“Hunter has made the right decisions day to day and week to week and meet to meet,” St. C. head coach Tony Ciroli said. “He is fully committed to us as a team.”

SHAWN COE, Union Local — This Jets standout had a senior season to remember for head coach Anna Moore.

Coe earned All-Buckeye 8, All-OVAC and placed within the 4A division of the conference. He also earned a trip to the Division II regional meet.

“We are very proud of Shawn’s fantastic season,” Moore said. “He trained very hard and gave all he had during each race. He set out hoping to qualify for the regional for a second time and he wanted to run under 17 minutes. He accomplished both of those things. He’s a great kid with a bright future.”

TYLER JENKINS, Barnesville — This junior standout is a running junkie and his dedicated paid dividends during the course of the season.

Jenkins finished fifth in the OVCCL, 24th overall in the OVAC and third in Class 3A. He was eighth in the district and 29th at the regional. A standout student, he’s also an Academic All-Eastern District honoree.

“Tyler is a very hard worker who takes the sport seriously,” Brown said. “He follows all of the other runners and teams from all ov.”

LOGAN LANEY, Harrison Central — This senior put the finishing touches on an impressive running career for the Huskies.

Laney placed in the top 10 of OVAC Class 4A, earned All-OVAC and advanced to the Division II regional for the fourth consecutive season.

JASMINE ARNOLD, Harrison Central — This Huskies senior put the finishing touches on an ultra-success career for Coach Doug Drapp’s team.

Arnold was the OVAC Class 4A champion and earned All-OVAC in the process. She was the Buckeye 8 champion, won the OVCCL and finished second in the Division II district to earn another trip to the regional meet.

JOSIE HANCOCK, Martins Ferry — This sophomore developed into one of the area’s premier runners this season under Lewis.

Hancock was second at Buckeye 8, won the Belmont County meet, finished second at OVCCL, second in OVAC Class 3A and earned All-OVAC. She was third in the district and narrowly missed a state trip, placing 24th in the regional.

“Josie had a very strong season,” Lewis said. “She loves to race and strives very hard to win. She will be a force to be reckoned with next season.”

HANNAH HUPP, Martins Ferry — This Purple Rider junior turned into a solid number two runner for Lewis’ team.

Hupp finished fifth at the Buckeye 8, eighth in Belmont County, eighth in OVAC Class 3A and 10th at the district to earn an individual trip to the regional meet.

“Hannah had a great end to her season,” Lewis said. “She ran well all season, but she really turned it on at the end. She will do great things for us next year.”

MAGGIE MARODY, St. Clairsville — This senior has her picture next to the word competitor in the dictionary.

That mentality paid off for her during her career running for Coach Ciroli.

This season, Marody finished 26th in OVAC, ninth in the OVCCL, 16th in the district and competed at the regional. She was also All-Buckeye 8.

“Maggie is a very driven young woman,” Ciroli said. “She can turn anything into a competition and wants to win. Her determination, her commitment to winning is why she is so important to our team.”

ALLYSON EVONEK, St. Clairsville — This junior is one of the most dedicated members of the Red Devils’ squad, according to Ciroli.

Evonek finished 10th in the OVAC, seventh in the OVCCL, 12th in the district and competed at the regional. She was also All-Buckeye 8.

“I value Allyson’s hard work, dedication and commitment to herself and the team,” Ciroli said.

AUBREY JOHNSON, Barnesville — This sophomore put forth an impressive campaign in helping the Shamrocks to an impressive season.

Johnson finished third in OVAC Class 3A, third in the OVCCL, sixth in the district and 42nd at the regional meet despite running through a late-season injury.

“Aubrey missed most practices during the weeks leading up to the district and regional, but she still ran very well,” Brown said. “She’s a very conscientious worker. She improved by well over a minute from last year on most courses we ran on.”

MARAH BETHEL, Barnesville — This freshman laid the groundwork for what could be a splendid prep career this season.

Bethel finished fifth in OVAC Class 3A, earned All-OVAC by finishing 27th overall, fifth in the OVCCL and was seventh at the district, earning an individual regional qualifying spot. She was 41st at the regional.

“Marah had no problem transitioning from junior high to high school,” Brown said. “She’s a very mature young lady who goes with the flow. She’s very pleasant to coach.”

BETHANY MCELFRESH, Bellaire — This Big Reds sophomore had an impressive season for Arno’s army.

McElfresh placed in the OVAC Class 3A meet, was all-Buckeye 8 and advanced to the regional for a second consecutive season.

“Bethany has continued to become a better runner,” Arno said. “She’s starting to realize what it takes to become a contender in bigger races. We have some things to work on in the offseason and if she stays focused, determined and puts the time in, there’s telling what she will be able to accomplish during the next two seasons.”

KENZY BECKETT, Shadyside — This Tiger sophomore had another impressive season.

Beckett was a placer in the 1A/2A meet at the OVAC and qualified to the regional as an individual.

“Kenzy is a hard-working kid with a great personality,” acting Shadyside coach Joel Joseph said. “I’m not sure Kenzy has realized her potential yet. She has a really high ceiling and I’m hoping that qualifying to the regional this season makes her understand how good she could be. Her best days are still ahead of her, and I’m incredibly happy with her success and growth as a runner.”

MARA BEARD, River — This talented freshman made an immediate impact for the Pilots’ program.

Beard captured the OVAC 1A/2A title en route to All-OVAC honors. She was third at the OVCCL and fourth at the district to earn a regional bid.

“Mara’s mental toughness defines who she is as a competitor,” River head coach Amy Shreve said. “She’s a true team player, although she individually stood out, she always had the team performance and standing in mind at every meet. She came into the season ready and focused on what she needed to do to accomplish her goals and she had an outstanding freshman season.

MARK BROWN, Barnesville — This veteran head coach wrapped up a very successful season in guiding the Shamrocks to numerous notable accomplishments.

Barnesville won the OVAC Class 3A title, finished second in the district, won the Belmont County championship and was ninth in the regional meet.

“We had a very successful and enjoyable season,” Brown said. “We had some very solid girls returning and they provided great leadership. What really put us over the top was how well our four freshmen ran. They made the adjustment from junior high to high school pretty quickly.”

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