Frankfort cross country boys race to second place in state meet

Chapin Jewell
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Following up on last year's state championship performance, the Frankfort boys' cross country team finished an impressive second place overall this season.

CHARLESTON - The Frankfort boys dominated their competition all season, but on Saturday, faced their stiffest competition in the Winfield Generals. In an incredibly close and competitive race, Winfield edged Frankfort 46 to 50 to earn the class AA state championship.

In back-to-back seasons, the Falcons have now finished as state champions and as state runner-up, an incredible run.

Winfield finished in first place with a score of 46, and Frankfort in second place with a score of 50. Oak Glen (95), East Fairmont (100) and Elkins (150) finished in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.

“We knew going into it that it was going to be a two-team race with us and Winfield battling it out. We knew we were going to be in for a dogfight. We knew that if we ran well, that they were going to have to run with us,” Frankfort coach Juan Phillips stated. “Give Winfield all the credit in the world, they showed up, they had their kids pumped and ready, and they ran lights out. They couldn’t have run any better.”

“We ran well. We are 100 percent thrilled with the performance of our kids. The result was just what it was. You have two teams in Frankfort and Winfield that would have finished second and third in AAA. The number one team in the state was AAA University and the second and third, us and Winfield, just happen to be in AA,” Phillips explained.

Aiding Winfield in winning the race was the key performances of their top two runners. The Generals’ sophomore sensation Brayden Marshall took the individual state title, while his teammate Matthew Scheneberg took third place.

Frankfort's Kent Niland crosses the line in fifth place overall, followed by teammate Garrett Ferguson in sixth place. Joined by Peyton Slider in 10 place, the trio led the Falcons to a second place finish overall.

Despite placing all five scoring runners in the top 20, Winfield’s first and third place finishes was too tough to overcome. Frankfort's Kent Niland finished in fifth place to become the 11th Frankfort boy to achieve cross country All-State honors.  Kent finished right ahead of fellow teammate Garrett Ferguson in sixth place. The Falcons’ Peyton Slider also earned all-state honors, finishing in 10th place.

Frankfort’s Landyn Sell finished in 16th place, followed by Keyser's Trenton Denne in 18th place. Frankfort's Luke Duncan took 20th place, Ryan Hughes took 30th, and Aiden Sensabaugh closed out the Frankfort team in 40th place.

The Frankfort boys finished the season with an incredible record of 139-1. 

“It wasn’t too many years ago that a second-place finish for Frankfort would have been significantly celebrated. We reminded the kids when we were down there that being a state runner-up was a celebration,” Phillips explained.

According to Phillips, “There was disappointment with not being state champions, but not disappointment with performance. The kids’ performance was amazing on Saturday, it was literally a neck and neck battle with us and Winfield.”

The Frankfort cross country programs are on an amazing run and the continues to improve year in and year out. There are high expectations, but also high rewards. Most importantly, the program’s goal is to not just produce quality runners, but also quality citizens.

According to Phillips, “Coach Snoberger and I have had an attitude of that being our first priority. The running, the accomplishments achieved in running, are really secondary to the accomplishments they will make in their entire lives, not just as runners but in being better citizens in their community. Our top priority has been to ensure that our kids are respectful and doing things correctly in all aspects, be it in academics or behavior wise.

Keyser's Trenton Denne finished in 18th place at the state cross country meet.

“Every year, the mindset and the expectations continues to increase, and that’s on the kids’ part. Coach Snoberger and I try to do what we can to help our program, to recruit within the school for our program, to bring kids in. But, the attitude and expectations, that comes from the kids. We can do as much as we want, but it takes the right attitude, heart and dedication from the kids to be successful.” Phillips detailed.

According to Phillips, “Right away, as soon as we got on the bus and started heading home, we started talking about next year, and the expectations we have for next year. We have greater expectations that just within West Virginia. We will be looking at what we can do beyond the state of West Virginia.”