2017-09-06 / Sports

1995 Cross Country Team enters BSHS Athletic Hall of Fame

by Jamie Harris

1995 LADY INDIANS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP CROSS COUNTRY TEAM, left to right: Erin Lewis, Lesan Powell, Jamie Wolfe, April Bautista, Stella Hickerson, Renee Yost, Belle Lillard, Dana Rainieri and Codi Parker. 1995 LADY INDIANS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP CROSS COUNTRY TEAM, left to right: Erin Lewis, Lesan Powell, Jamie Wolfe, April Bautista, Stella Hickerson, Renee Yost, Belle Lillard, Dana Rainieri and Codi Parker. The fall of 1995 proved to be a very special time for the members of the Berkeley Springs Lady Indians cross country program. The team led by head coach John Rowland consisted of team members Renee Yost, Jamie Wolfe, Dana Rainieri, Codi Parker, Lesan Powell, Stella Hickerson and Belle Lillard came into the state meet with a chip on their shoulder and a point to be proved. That point was the Lady Indians were bound and determined to leave that day with the WV Class AA State Cross Country Team Championship.

It was safe to say the point was made as the Lady Indians, despite the weather conditions, at the tough Elkins course brought back to Morgan County and Berkeley Springs High School the first cross country state team title in school history.

In what was described by Coach John Rowland as the biggest win the history of the cross country program, a near perfect race, the Berkeley Springs Lady Indians cross country team captured its first state championship. The abysmal course conditions hampered all the runners efforts.

The state championship course at Elkins had been softened by two days of hard rains. Shortly before the start of the girls race a near torrential downpour complicated the already hazardous conditions.

The conditions seemed to play into the hands of the Lady Indian runners. Rain and mud doesn’t intimidate our kids. I was hoping some of the other teams would be afraid of the course. We practiced in the rain the evening before our race. I believe that practice really helped, stated Coach Rowland.

Apparently the course conditions influenced team strategies. Cameron failed to attack the course aggressively in the early stages. They allowed the Lady Indians to stay close. To the surprise of many, Doddridge led the team scoring at the one mile mark. The second mile proved to be the deciding factor in the meet. With Wolfe and Yost leading the way Hickerson, Rainieri and Lillard started to make bold passes to put Berkeley Springs into first place.

The last mile provided the Lady Indians with a few scares. Rainieri took the first of her two falls and lost several positions. Despite the falls Rainieri was able to regain the positions that she lost to only slip and fall for a second time. Once again Rainieri worked her way back eventually finishing in 19th place. Insurance for the victory was secured by Hickerson, Lillard and Powell as they pushed past several opponents in the last mile.

Berkeley Springs victory avenged a 12 point defeat at the hands of Cameron at the same course as the Forest Festival Invitational in late September. That setback caused changes in the Lady Indians training routines that clearly benefitted the program. Berkeley Springs defeated runner-up Cameron 40-50. Doddridge was third with 60 points.

Wolfe led the Lady Indians effort with a ninth place finish. Yost finished in 11th place in her best performance of the year. Hickerson and Lillard finished in a virtual dead heat securing 13th and 14th place for the team. Rainieri despite the two falls finished in 19th place. Powell and Parker rounded out the scoring. Wolfe was named All-State while Yost, Hickerson and Lillard were Honorable Mention All-State.

“This group may have trained harder during the season than any team we’ve had before. Our underclassmen handled the pressure well. I’m especially happy for Stella, Renee and Jamie. They’ve worked four years for this. To get the championship and All State recognition is a terrific way to conclude their cross country career,” Rowland concluded.

Now these Lady Indian runners, who back in 1995 were not getting respect or recognition despite a state runner up finish in 1994 and then backed it up with a state title in 1995, will get a new honor. The only thing to top a state title will be the 2017 Berkeley Springs High School Athletic Hall of Fame induction for cross country runners Jamie Wolfe, Renee Yost, Stella Hickerson, Dana Rainieri, Codi Parker and Lesan Powell who all will get another moment to shine as their head coach John Rowland will welcome them back to Berkeley Springs High School and into the Hall of Fame where they rightfully belong.

The Berkeley Springs High School Athletic Hall of Fame will have their induction ceremony on Saturday, September 9 at 5:30 p.m. with a potluck dinner and the ceremony will follow at 6:30 in the BSHS Auditorium. On Friday, September 8 the Class of 2017 Hall of Fame members will be introduced at half time of the BSHS Indians and Francis Scott Key football game around 7:45 p.m.

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