RIPLEY – On a sun-splashed day, the Ripley Viking boys cross country team was able to make yet another big splash in the still very young season of 2012 by finishing second in its very own Covered Bridge Invitational at Cedar Lakes.

The Vikings accumulated a team-total of 54 points to place second behind champion Parkersburg. The Big Reds ended the day with 43 points.

Ripley had not one, but two Top 10 finishers in the meet. Caleb Casto placed fourth in a time of 17:24.23 to pace the Viking attack. Teammate Chad Longanacre was eighth overall in a time of 17:35.35.

"I started off at a good pace and was just trying to maintain that pace and have a strong kick at the end," Casto, a senior, said in an interview with Jackson Newspapers following the race.

Jake Casto just missed a Top 10 finish by placing 11th (17:48.76). Levi Phillips was 15th (18:12.34) for the Vikings with Ryan Gregory right behind him placing 16th (18:14.34).

Sammy Shaver was 31st overall (19:16.89) while Dillon Welling came in 38th (19:43.21).

George Washington's Matthew Bradford took the title in the boys division with a time of 16:16.31. Nick Musgrave of Parkersburg was the top finisher for the winning Big Reds, coming in second in a time of 16:58.97. Marcus Black of Catholic was third with a clocking of 17:12.24.

"We're very proud of our team," said Ripley coach Hillary Groves. She said finishing second to Parkersburg gives her team a good gauge for the remainder of the season. "The boys team is one we've coached since sixth grade."

GW followed Ripley in the team standings with 89 points. Charleston Catholic had 95, St. Marys 132, Ravenswood (see a story on the Red Devils elsewhere on sports pages) finished with 152, Wirt County had 180 and Sherman had 191.

Senior Ali Cunningham had the top performance by a county runner on Saturday by placing second in the girls division. Cunningham turned in a time of 20:27.04 to finish behind Parkersburg's Kaylee Williams, who won the race with a time of 20:19.60.

"This week I really focused on my weak points, including our most difficult hill," said Cunningham.
As a team, Ripley was fifth out of seven squads with 104 points.

Melissa Hughart was next in line for the Lady Vikings, placing 18th overall in a time of 23:14. Maddi Randolph was 30th (24:34.08), Molli Cunningham placed 50th (26:51.75), Sapphire Parsons was 53rd (27:16.63) and Audra Thomas came in 68th (29:14.65).

Parkersburg also won the girls title with 26 points. Ravenswood (see details on the Devilettes elsewhere on sports pages) was second with 64. GW was third with 81 while St. Marys came in fourth with 93. Catholic and Wirt followed Ripley with 150 and 168, respectively.

"We (the Lady Vikings) have had several injuries and are still coming back from those," said Groves. "It was another positive race."