Christian's Sports Beat: Out in front

Essential reporting in volatile times.

Not a Subscriber yet? Click here to take advantage of All access digital limited time offer $5.99 per month EZ Pay.

Interested in Donating? Click #ISupportLocal for more information on supporting local journalism.


Ripley High School track athlete Tori Starcher competes at a recent meet at Cabell Midland High School. Courtesy photo

If you have read any of my previous columns, especially on running, you know that I am partial to runners in Putnam County, since that is where I live.

However, this time around, I thought it would be good to make sure that everyone understands what a young runner in nearby Jackson County is accomplishing right now.

Tori Starcher is a 16-year-old junior at Ripley High School and, again this year, she is the top girls distance runner in the state and is also leading the pack in national events.

Just a few weeks ago, Starcher won at the prestigious Penn Relays at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, taking the girls high school mile in 4:38.19, and said the experience was a memorable one. “Since I took second there last year, I pretty much knew what to expect,” she said. “That is what the experience was like so I had a comfort level what I was getting into. I was focusing on competing and trying to win, so I was really happy with the result.”

Not only did Starcher win the prestigious race, she also set a Penn Relays record for the event.

This coming Friday and Saturday, Starcher and her Ripley High School track teammates will be defending the state title they won in 2018, after finishing second the previous season.

As the biggest track meet of the season nears, Starcher is a bit anxious, saying, “We have worked really hard to get ready for states. As a team, we focus on the task ahead of us. We know it’s going to be tougher this year, because we know the other teams are going to be more competitive this year, so we are all just trying to stay healthy and take care of the task ahead of us this week.”

For the third straight year, Starcher will be competing in all three distance races, 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters, and anchoring Ripley’s 4 x 800 relay team. Starcher won all of her events in her freshman and sophomore seasons at the state meet.

Runners across West Virginia have known of Starcher since she was winning titles as a member of Ripley Middle School’s track and cross country teams. Now that she is catching the national eye of the running world, her Ripley High Coach Krystal Cunningham says it hasn’t changed her a bit.

“Tori has been a delight to coach,” Cunningham said, “because she knows the type of results that can come from hard work and desire. But Tori is also a leader to our young runners on the team by leading by example and always helping with them with their training.”

Nationally, Starcher is the sixth-ranked high school girls runner in the 800 meters, seventh ranked in the 1,600 and 10th ranked in the 3200. In the mile, the Jackson County track star has posted the best time of year, with a time of 4:38:19.

It’s hard not to know how much I enjoy running and being part of the Hurricane High School track and cross county programs. For Starcher, it’s about the same thought process.

“Ever since I can remember I have liked to run, I have always been competitive, and since I enjoy running, it seemed to come natural,” she said. “I also love to inspire young girls to run and compete and have an impact on their lives.”

Running is probably in her blood from day one, as her late grandfather was Jack Wiseman, a longtime track coach at Ravenswood High School, and her mother, Keri, is an assistant for Cunningham for the current girls team.

So don’t be surprised that the name Tori Starcher doesn’t pop up when a future United States national track team is announced, making the running community in West Virginia very proud.

Christian Deiss of Scott Depot is a freshman at Hurricane High School.

Funerals for Saturday, June 6, 2020

Bibbee, Larry - 1 p.m., Emma Chapel, Liberty.

Christian, Ralph - 2 p.m., Gilman Bottom Freewill Baptist Church, Davin.

Drennen, Betty - 2 p.m., Walker Memorial Park, Summersville.

Gilmore, William - 11 a.m., Cochran Cemetery, New Martinsville.

Jones, Randall - 11:30 a.m., Jedamski Family Cemetery.

Milhoan, Donald - 1 p.m., Roush Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Moore, Donald - 11:30 a.m., St. Timothy Lutheran Church, South Charleston.

O'Brien, Michael - 1 p.m., John H. Taylor Funeral Home, Spencer.

Painter, Hazel - 1 p.m., Floral Hills Garden of Memories, Sissonville.

Rose, Robert - 2 p.m., Elk Funeral Home, Charleston.

VanMatre, Barbara - 1 p.m., Foglesong-Casto Funeral Home, Mason.