Ritter returns for senior year

Watauga distance runner Sophia Ritter committed to run for Charlotte in college.

BOONE — The Watauga High School cross-country team announced that Sophia Ritter committed and Watauga teammate Avery Cannon signed early to running at Charlotte.

Ritter was the Northwestern Conference Runner of the Year after winning the conference championship with a time of 19 minutes, 25 seconds. Ritter has also run in the 3,200-meter run in the 2019 state 3-A championships in Greensboro.

“They’re going to get a tough runner that wants to excel and wants herself and her team to win,” Watauga coach Randy McDonough said of Ritter. “I’m looking forward to hopefully getting to see her this fall at some meet somewhere. That goes for Avery too.”

Ritter proved she could run with professional runners when she finished third in the 2017 Bear Assault on Grandfather. She has been hampered all pre-spring season with her groin and hip injuries caused by running cross-country and indoor track.

Ritter ran in the 800-meter run, the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200-meter run in Watauga’s lone track and field meet in Hickory. McDonough said Ritter qualified for the 3-A western regional in the 3,200-run by two seconds.

“Hopefully she can keep getting out there and running through all this,” McDonough said.

McDonough said Ritter was up for the Morehead Scholarship at North Carolina, but signed to run at UNCC.

McDonough said the 49ers will get Ritter’s best. He also said he wasn’t sure if Ritter would have had the time to do what is required for her to do as a runner and as a Morehead Scholar.

“Just to be a runner, that is the school she chose,” McDonough said of Ritter.

Cannon is the 3-A state cross-country champion, having won the event in Nov. 9 in Kernersville. He also finished second in the state 3-A indoor meet held on Feb. 15 in Winston-Salem. He finished the race with a time of 9:42.42.

He was also the Northwestern Conference Runner of the Year.

“It’s really cool to have four of us going to a school,” Cannon said. “We’ve all worked really hard this season. I’m proud that everyone committed.”

Cannon also saw some national competition when he competed in the Footlocker Championships in San Diego on Dec. 14.

Cannon, who joins a team that finished fifth in the NCAA Southeast Regional, likes the idea of staying Ritter’s teammate. He’s been training for the fall cross-country season since the prep season has been postponed to at least May 15.

“I was pretty excited when she committed,” Cannon said. “At least I’ll know somebody on the team.”

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