Knights’ Boys Headed to St. Marys
Tyler Consolidated Boys’ Cross Country team has secured its first-ever trip to the state meet. Riding on the heels of the lead horse, Spencer Corley, the Knights’ team – made up of all underclassmen – ran to the finish line of the Class A/AA Region I Cross Country meet at St. Marys High School on Thursday, Oct. 19, making history.
The state cross country meet will be held on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Cabell-Midland High School. The event will host the cream of the crop – the best runners in all classes, from all over the state. The Silver Knights’ team might just be singing the Hank Williams, Jr. Tune, “A Country Boy Can Survive,” when the athletes hit the course for all the marbles.
All season long, these young athletes have shown spirit and school pride, giving the competition fits. Corley, Streets, Baker, Ammons, and Brown form a tight unit, which continues to improve and push the opposition.
“This is a great young group of runners who are dedicated to the sport. They push each other and encourage each other,” said Coach Haggerty.
“They set a goal at the beginning of the season to make it to the state meet. Coming in second in Class A is a huge accomplishment. Tyler Consolidated has never had a team make it this far, and I’m very proud of how hard they have worked and how far they have come since the start of the year. A couple of these boys were running junior high last year and now are in the state meet. This is huge for our program and I am expecting it to give us a lift in getting more kids involved next year,” Haggerty said. “Whatever happens Saturday, these boys are still going to be winners.”
Former Tyler Star News Editor Miles Layton, a running enthusiast, covered Tyler Consolidated Track and Cross Country while operating the Star News for a few years. Layton, who is now editor of the Chowan Herald in North Carolina, had this to say about the Silver Knights, Spencer Corley:
“When I was in Tyler County, I remember seeing this kid run – Spencer Corley. There was an intensity about him that I could tell drove him to the edge. He has to win. A lot of runners may sprint at the end and call themselves athletes, but this kid put it all on the line. When he ran shoe-off, foot bloody at the race at the beginning of the season, you just have to marvel at that kind of drive, and dedication. You don’t see something like that often. It’s rare, special.”
“Maybe one day, Spencer will be competing in the Olympics. And we’ll all be able to say that we knew that kid way back when he was running Turkey Trots through Sistersville. Sportscasters will say that kid is from West Virginia and we’ll all be proud,” Layton said.
On Thursday, this sports writer witnessed the teams enter the regional competition from around the area. I watched the runners warming up, and I watched them stand at the starting line, waiting for the gun to go off. My thoughts raced back to Layton when would mingle with the runners and take a few laps himself.
On one occasion a couple of years ago, as sports writer, I decided to cover the regional competition at Grafton. When I pulled into the parking area with fellow sports writer Bruce Crawford, the first person we saw was Layton, jogging up a small hill that was part of the course. Even though he wasn’t covering the event, he just had to be there.
“I’m not charging for this, and I can’t stay long, but I just couldn’t help showing up to support Tyler Consolidated and also provide some inspiration for the kids I’ve come to know,” Layton said.
My thought, and I expressed it to Crawford, was, “Is he normal?” Crawford, who will not say anything bad about anyone, said, “He’s just dedicated and loves running.”
Crawford was right. When Layton sent me his thoughts on this year’s Corley and the Knights, I thought about that day. I also thought about the talk we had when he said he wanted to cover track and cross country.
I remember I was up to my ears in work, covering sports and local news, and when Layton asked if I would care if he covered the running events, I was relieved. However, I thought, “How can he? He’s editor of the paper, and he won’t have time to do them justice. He’s busier than I am, but go for it.” I was wrong again. I never told him, but I looked forward each week to his articles on the Silver Knights.
In essence, due to the Silver Knights Boys’ Cross Country team’s efforts at the Oct. 19 regional competition, the excitement for what lies ahead has already reached the Outer Banks. Who knows where it will go from there? Standing at the finish line on Oct. 19, I got that thrill of watching the team that I cover come in, one by one, mostly ahead of the pack. Conditioned and well-coached, they achieved what they set out to do at the beginning of the season. They reached their goal. Now, it’s on to greater heights.
“I got a slow start, so I’m a little disappointed with my finish time. I know I can do better. The hills never bothered me, but the bad start, haunted me the whole race. I feel I ran a good race, but I am excited that we made it as a team to state, and to qualify as an individual,” Spencer Corley said of the regional competition.
Of the Silver Knights’ team, Layton said, “Let’s face it; until now, Tyler Consolidated has never been considered a distance powerhouse like the Morgantown school. That changed, however, with the recent finish at the regional meet. The Knights have given notice to the rest of the state – we’re strong, and we have the stamina, strength and character to beat you! It’s not the size of the school; it’s the size of the athlete’s heart. These kids have been running since they were in middle school. They paid their dues time and again with long runs through the mountains and around that tough -as-nails beatdown course behind the high school. We’ll look back someday and think, this was the start of a distance running dynasty in Tyler County.”
As a team, the Knights finished seventh overall and second in single A, head of St. Marys, which took the third spot in single A. Corley, with his time of 17:23, was good for sixth place among all runners. Also finishing in the top 25 was Silver Knight James Streets, who came down the stretch to grab 22nd with a 17:59. Rounding out the event for the Silver Knights was Haygen Baker with a 19:05, Creed Ammons at 19:46, and Haydn Brown with a 20:42.
The Tyler Consolidated Silver Knights Girls and Paden City Boys and Girls had runners entered in the race, and although they had no qualifiers, each runner gave his or her own personal effort to finish the race, and for that they can be proud.
Good luck to the Tyler Consolidated Boys’ Cross Country team on Saturday at the state meet. We’ll be cheering you on. Give it your best ever effort, and go for the gold.