Garrett Ferguson sets course record at invitational in Short Gap

Staff Writer
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Frankfort's Garrett Ferguson eyeballs Elkins' Charlie Smoak as the two head to the finish line.  Ferguson would edge Smoak by inches, win the event, and set a new course record.
Tribune photo by Chapin Jewell

By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

SHORT GAP - As Frankfort’s Garrett Ferguson popped out of the woods by the cross-country parking lot in Short Gap Saturday morning, he was met very enthusiastically by the encouraging screams of Frankfort girls’ cross-country coach Woody Snoberger.

“THIS IS YOUR HOUSE, GARRETT,” Snoberger yelled, the implication of course, is that nobody should beat you on your home course.

Ferguson, already an accomplished runner as a sophomore, needed all the support the home crowd assembled could muster, as he was in a dogfight in a wave that contained many of the state’s top AA and AAA runners.

In the end, Ferguson would prove that indeed the Frankfort course was his house, as did the rest of his Falcon teammates, as in addition to Ferguson winning the race by less than a second and setting the new Frankfort cross-country course record, the Falcon boys’ squad as a unit finished in first place as well. It was a good day to be a Falcon.

Ferguson and Elkins’ Charlie Smoak provided all the drama, as the two runners converged side by side near the finish line, located just outside the fence and behind the visitor’s bleachers at Falcon Stadium. Ferguson was seen checking Smoak’s position with a quick side glance as the afterburners kicked in allowing him to edge the Elkins Tiger at the finish line in a record breaking time of 17:19.8, inches ahead of Smoak at 17:20:00.

Adding to the drama and excitement, and proving once again that cross-country runners are a particularly dedicated breed of athletes, Hampshire’s Chris Lucas, an accomplished runner competing in the same wave as Ferguson and Smoak, lost his shoe roughly one mile in the approximately three mile course, finishing the final two miles running with just one shoe.

In winning the race, Ferguson defended his Frankfort Invitational title from 2019 and smashed the old course record by 15 seconds.

The individual results for the boys’ race are as follows:

VARSITY BOYS 5000 METER RUN -- 1. G Ferguson (FRAN) 17:19.8; 2. C Smoak (ELK) 17:20.0; 3. K Allison (OAK) 17:38.1; 4. A Sanders (FRAN) 17:46.1; 5. N Schneider (SPR) 18:12.9; 6. C Lucas (HAMP) 18:13.2; 7. X Shoemake (FRAN) 18:22.9; 8. P Slider (FRAN) 18:35.2; 9. M Konchar (OAK) 18:43.9; 10. C Cimaglia (FRAN) 18:46.7; 11. L Sell (FRAN) 19:06.3; 12. S Niland (FRAN) 19:13.5; 13. P Mackey (MUSS) 19:13.9; 14. J Mundey (BERK) 19:18.1; 15. L Anger (ELK) 19:23.6;

As impressive as Ferguson’s individual performance was, so too was the performance of the Frankfort boys’ team collectively. The Falcons, showing once again why they are among the favorites to capture a state title, displayed a mass of Columbia Blue and Silver clad runners crossing the finish line ahead of the pack.

Frankfort had seven of the top 12 finishers in the race, allowing the Falcons to smash the competition, winning the Invitational with a team score of 30. Those seven finishers were Ferguson (17:19.8), Anthony Sanders in fourth (17:46.1), Xander Shoemake in seventh (18:22.9), Peyton Slider in eighth (18:35.2), Christian Cimaglia in tenth (18:46.7), Landyn Sell in eleventh (19:06.3) and Steven Niland in twelfth (19:13.5).

The final team results for the boys are as follows:

VARSITY BOYS 5000 METER RUN TEAMS -- 1. Frankfort High 30; 2. Oak Glen High 109; 3. Spring Mills High 111; 4. Martinsburg High 111; 5. Elkins High 116; 6. Hampshire High 130; 7. Berkeley Springs High 149; 8. Musselman High 164; 9. Tucker County High 244.

On the girls’ side, Oak Glen’s Sophia Arner (22:07.2) outkicked Philip Barbour’s Audrey Williams (22:11.2) to claim the title by four seconds. Mineral County’s top individual finishers were Frankfort freshman Addison Lease in tenth place (23:43.5) and Keyser sophomore Averi Everline just behind in eleventh (23:51.5). The final individual results are as follows:

VARSITY GIRLS 5000 METER RUN -- 1. S Arner (OAK) 22:07.2; 2. A Williams (PHIL) 22:11.2; 3. J Everson (PHIL) 22:54.9; 4. K McGeehan (OAK) 23:04.7; 5. C Wilson (SPR) 23:05.4; 6. E Chambers (TUC) 23:10.8; 7. H Jenkins (MUSS) 23:31.9; 8. A Berdine (ELK) 23:33.6; 9. B Harvey (BERK) 23:42.6; 10. A Lease (FRAN) 23:43.5; 11. A Everline (KEY) 23:51.5; 12. A Helmick (BERK) 23:55.3; 13. S Sproul (ELK) 24:04.8; 14. N Sutton (ELK) 24:14.0; 15. M Mitchell (PHIL) 24:15.2.

In team competition for the girls, Philip Barbour (58) finished way ahead of second place finisher Elkins (107) and third place finisher Hampshire (122) to claim the top prize. The Colts placed five runners in the top 25, including the second and third place finishers in winning the competition. The final team results for the girls are as follows:

VARSITY GIRLS 5000 METER RUN TEAMS -- 1. Philip Barbour High 58; 2. Elkins High 107; 3. Hampshire High 114; 4. Tucker County High 122; 5. Frankfort High 129; 6. Oak Glen High 149; 7. Martinsburg High 155; 8. Spring Mills High 166; 9. Musselman High 200; 10. Keyser High 209.

The event also included junior varsity competition, with the individual and team results as follows:

JV BOYS 5000 METER RUN -- 1. J Ridgel (FRAN) 19:51.4; 2. A Sensabaugh (FRAN) 20:44.4; 3. T Umstead (FRAN) 20:55.1; 4. W McKenzie (FRAN) 20:57.2; 5. D Getz (FRAN) 21:21.7; 6. C Fry (ELK) 22:46.7; 7. B McCollough (FRAN) 22:54.3; 8. M May (MART) 23:13.6; 9. A Cottam (MART) 23:23.5; 10. K Smouse (FRAN) 24:13.4; 11. M Cardamone (SPR) 24:52.4; 12. E Millard (SPR) 24:52.5; 13. E Slayman (FRAN) 25:11.9; 14. I Bender (SPR) 25:41.6; 15. B Lott (FRAN) 26:22.6.

JV BOYS 5000 METER RUN TEAMS -- 1. Frankfort High 15; 2. Spring Mills High 50.

JV GIRLS 5000 METER RUN -- 1. P Asbury (HAMP) 26:29.9; 2. K Hicks (TUC) 27:11.5; 3. K Smith (FRAN) 27:35.6; 4. H Kennedy (PHIL) 28:04.5; 5. A Hicks (TUC) 28:10.6; 6. O Baker (PHIL) 29:49.7; 7. H Kelpy (MART) 29:58.1; 8. M Niland (FRAN) 30:28.6; 9. I McKenzie (FRAN) 32:14.6; 10. P Porter (MART) 33:27.7; 11. B Gooden (TUC) 34:05.7; 12. A Digon (FRAN) 37:31.3; 13. K Thasher (OAK) 40:25.8.

Saturday’s event, sponsored by WVU Medicine at Potomac Valley Hospital, was the 27th running of the Frankfort Invitational Cross-Country Meet. According to Frankfort boys’ cross-country coach Juan Phillips, “The cross-country invitational felt more like a track meet as Covid restrictions required waves of racers. The unusually cool and humid weather, did not prevent runners from lighting up the course as the course record was broken by two runners.”

It may have seemed different and it may have looked different. What wasn’t different, however, was the excellence on display by Mineral County’s cross country runners, and in particular, the Frankfort boys, led by Garrett Ferguson, serving notice to the rest of the state that they are a legitimate title contender.

Frankfort freshman Addison Lease was Frankfort and Mineral County's top finisher (10th place overall) at the Frankfort Invitational.
Photo courtesy of Juan Phillips