Region 3 cross country will run directly through Wyoming County this fall.

Literally.

The region's top two meets, the Coalfield Conference and the Region 3 Meet will both be held in the county, a first for the sport here.

The Coalfield will be held on Oct. 9 at Wyoming East.

The Region 3 state tournament qualifier will be held at Westside on Oct. 24.

Cross country practice starts later this month.

"We are excited to be hosting the Region 3 Cross County Championships on Oct. 24," Westside coach L. Dale Stewart said. "By hosting the events (boys and girls) our runners and their families and fans will get a chance to watch them in competition without having to travel to one of the other schools. We are excited to give Westside and Wyoming East a chance to compete within the county."

Stewart said there is a small, though not highly significant, home-course advantage.

Although it's not a major factor, running "at home" does give the runners a little advantage as they do not have to disrupt a complete day just to travel somewhere else.

"I think it's great for Wyoming County that the two biggest events will be hosted by Wyoming County Schools," Wyoming East coach Randall McKinney said.

There are 21 schools in the region and as many as seven runners per school are allowed to run. It is the state tournament qualifier. The state meet is in Ona on Nov. 2.

Westside has what Stewart called "a young, but promising team."

Junior Logan Vance leads the way, after qualifying for the state meet as a freshman and sophomore.

Letterman Noah Vance, Cody Vance, Austin Gibson, Hunter White and Delwood Blankenship could potentially have excellent years. Phillip Fox will also be a first-year runner after missing his freshman year with a leg injury.

Koty Blackburn was the top middle school runner in the county last year.

Wyatt Osborne, Elijah Ellis and Aydan Nash are new freshmen.

In this sport it is hard to predict which newcomers will step up and excel as freshmen runners since they are increasing their racing mileage from 1.86 miles to 3.1 miles. That's a huge increase and it takes time for runners to train up to that mileage.

On the girls side for Westside Britney Coachran will be a senior and has been a regular qualifier for the state meet.

Alyssa Wells, one of the top freshmen in the state two years ago, is back after sitting out last year with injuries.

"She looks like she is ready to pick up where she left off," Stewart said.

Alyssa Bailey, Latasha Acord, Emily Johnson, Ashton Brown and Brooklyn Woolwine return and freshmen Abby Lusk, Shawna Harrison and sophomore Aliza Harrison are newcomers.

"On paper, we should have a very good year but results are not decided on paper," Stewart said. "We will have to wait and see where we are in October and November. We have about 12 meets leading up to the regional meet."

The first is at Woodrow Wilson Aug. 24 and Westside will host a meet on the Region 3 course Aug. 27.

This year's Wyoming East team will be led by three returning lettermen in senior Jared Sandy, sophomore Jacob Ellison and sophomore Tucker Cook.

McKinney said that two freshmen, Nate Parsons and Garrett Mitchell, could make an immediate impact.

The girls of Wyoming East should be strong with the return of ranked runners, junior Rileigh Mullins and sophomore Brianna Cook.

"Rileigh Mullins has all of the potential to qualify for the state meet," McKinney said. "Brianna Cook was the most improved from last year. I also expect that she has a great chance of qualifying for the state meet."

Freshman "that will make some noise" are Colleen Lookabill and Abby Russell.

"We are still looking for one more girls runner so they have a chance to qualify as a team," McKinney said. "Right now my expectations are high."

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