RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The Lady Eagles beat the heat, and almost eclipsed the rest of the field, on Saturday.
The same could be said for freshman Sarah Watts.
That’s because the Eastern High School girls cross country squad — amid a field of almost 200 runners on a hot and humid morning — placed fourth as a team at the 47th annual Patty Forgey Invitational on the campus of the University of Rio Grande.
Individually, Gallia Academy’s Watts was the top Ohio Valley Publishing area runner — both boys or girls — by capturing sixth overall in the high school girls race.
Eastern and Gallia Academy fielded full girls clubs, as did Southern, which sported the necessary number of five for a team score.
The Lady Eagles earned a fourth-place finish with a score of 128, as their top six scorers all ranged from 10th to 54th overall.
The Blue Angels, with Watts leading the way in 20 minutes and 55 seconds, ended up seventh with a score of 272 — as Southern’s score of 382 was good enough for 15th.
There were 21 schools which posted a team score, as the lengthy list of teams spanned geographically from southern West Virginia to central Ohio.
Fairland and Ripley tied with a team score of 76, but Fairland — on the sixth-score tiebreaker — won the team championship.
Hurricane was third at 98, followed immediately by Eastern (128), Caldwell (157), Woodrow Wilson (237) and Gallia Academy (272).
For the Lady Eagles, Jessica Cook claimed 10th overall in 21:09, while Ally Durst was right behind her in 12th in 21:25.
The next four Eastern scorers were Rhiannon Morris (29th in 22:41), Whitney Durst (41st in 23:38), Lexa Hayes (52nd in 24:20) and Kaitlyn Hawk (54th in 24:28), while the Eagles’ final counting time was that of Haylie Blankenship (123rd in 28:32).
Watts (6th in 20:55) was joined near the front for Gallia Academy by Brooke Johnson (31st in 22:51), while Abby Johnson (84th in 25:45) and Abby Cremeans (86th in 25:54) crossed next for GAHS.
The Blue and White’s final three counting times were those of Grace Montgomery (136th in 29:35), Maddie Stewart (138th in 29:37) and Eliza Davies (140th in 29:39).
Southern’s Sydney Roush paced the Lady Tornadoes in 30th in 22:44, as the other Purple and Gold competitors included Mallory Johnson (76th in 25:21), Kathryn Matson (111th in 27:38), Madison Lisle (125th in 28:42) and Addie Matson (161st in 32:06).
The Meigs Lady Marauders featured four runners — Caitlyn Rest (51st in 24:18), Madison Cremeans (88th in 26:02), Taylor Swartz (94th in 26:39) and Carmen Doherty (101st in 26:57).
Allison Henderson was Point Pleasant’s only individual girl on Saturday, and finished 34th in exactly 23 minutes.
The lone female representative from South Gallia was Alex Lu, who was 129th in 28:59.
Victoria Starcher of Ripley was the individual race winner in 18:31, while Jenny Seas of Peebles was the race runner-up in 19:04.
On the boys side, Gallia Academy — spearheaded by top-15 finishes by senior twin brothers Caleb Greenlee (11th in 17:31) and Kyle Greenlee (15th in 17:43) — amounted a 10th-place team standing with a score of 245.
Meigs also fielded a full boys group, as the Marauders were 23rd with a 595 tally.
There were 25 boys schools which posted team scores, as Hurricane ran away with the title with a total of 44.
In addition to the Greenlee twins, Ezra Blain (87th in 20:27), Kobe Cochran (90th in 20:40), Ethan Rider (96th in 20:48), Grant Smith (102nd in 20:59) and Tristan Crisenbery (105th in 21:01) were the other counting Blue Devil times.
The Marauders had six runners — Landon Davis (132nd in 21:38), Brad Logan (133rd in 21:38), Colton Heater (155th in 22:09), Joseph Cotterill (213th in 24:50), Brandon Justis (232nd in 25:56) and Cole Hoffman (234th in 26:00).
Point Pleasant, paced by junior Luke Wilson with a 12th-place performance in 17 minutes and 33 seconds, placed four runners — and also included Ethan Scott (161st in 22:20), Isaac Daniels (175th in 23:00) and Tanner Durst (218th in 25:12).
Southern sported three runners — 38th-place Larry Dunn in 18:42, 159th-place Dakota Kowell in 22:14, and 216th-place Jared Koenig in 25:04.
Eastern’s only individuals —senior Owen Arix (34th in 18:29) and sophomore Colton Reynolds (35th in 18:33) — crossed back-to-back only four seconds apart, while South Gallia’s two runners were freshmen Garrett Frazee (45th in 18:56) and Griffin Davis (208th in 24:10).
There were 272 runners in the boys high school race, as the Woodrow Wilson tandem of Chris Barbera (16:43) and Ryan Vaught (16:47) swept the top-two individual spots.
Visit www.baumspage.com for a complete list of results of the 2017 Patty Forgey Invitational.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106