The Elkins boys cross country team, winners of the last five Class 3A state titles, is hoping to run its way to a sixth straight championship this weekend and there's some extra motivation to do so.
"A lot of people did not think they could do it last year," said Head Coach Beverly Mabry. "They have had a lot of those same people say they don't think they can do it again this year, so they have something to prove."
"We have heard some rumors that we are not going to win for the sixth time and finally someone else is going to win it, but I don't think so," said Israel Mashburn. "We are going to keep this streak going as long as we can and that includes this year."
Similar to last year, the Elks are young. Only one senior on the squad, the rest underclassmen. But it's Elkins' youth that has carried the team this far.
"It's a lot of pressure to put on a sophomore to lead the team and carry the team on their shoulders," said Mabry. "They have stepped up and they are pushing each other and it is a really close knit group of kids."
Along with that young talent, the Elks believe team chemistry will lead them to another state crown.
"We push each other as hard as we can," said Mashburn. "We motivate each other and we stick together no matter what."
"We run together and we have a good time," said Michael Harris. "It's not as competitive. We are not killing each other when we are running. We are united and we can run as a pack."
Coach Beverly's message to her team heading into this weekend's state meet is do the best you can today.
"If it's meant to be than we will win and if it's not than we know we have walked off of that course and we gave everything we had and couldn't do anything different," said Mashburn."