By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald
Shady Spring’s Houstin Syvertson and Greenbrier East’s Tré Moore will have to be at the top of their game from the get-go this afternoon as track and field athletes begin their quest for state meet glory.
The Class AAA Region 3 duo, who have the first- and third-best shot put qualifying distances, respectively, will be in the first wave of championship field event competitions when the annual West Virginia high school track and field extravaganza gets under way at UC Stadium’s Laidley Field at 2 p.m.
“Obviously, we expect a lot out of Houstin,” said Vince Culicerto, who helps his father, Pete, guide the Shady Spring boys. “He’s been ranked No. 1 and has won all except one meet (a loss to Moore which he avenged last week).
“He’s sitting up there pretty good. He has a legitimate chance to win, and he wants it. He came in second last year and didn’t like it. Houstin’s put in an awful lot of work.”
Syvertson qualified with a best toss of 52 feet, 1 1/2 inches, while Moore, who now owns the East school record of 52-3, qualified at 47-6 1/2.
“Tré has bounced between 1 and 2 in the shot all year,” said Greenbrier East coach Jim McCutcheon. “He and the Shady kid will battle.”
Sprinter Ben Lilly could make inroads for the Tigers in the 100-meter dash, and the boys 4x100 and shuttle hurdle relays have an outside chance at points, Culicerto said.
The best hopes for the Shady Spring girls will rest on the shoulders of field events standouts Alicia Marshall and Kaylee Dickenson and hurdlers Lyndsey Thompson and Ali Kominsky. Marshall has the sixth-best discus qualifying throw (110-9) and Dickenson the eight-best high jump clearance (5-2). “The field events are crazy (and unpredictable),” said Culicerto. “Kaylee went down there last year and got second in the (Class AA) discus (after qualifying much poorer).”
Thompson and Kominsky have been solid in the 300s this spring, with Thompson qualifying with a fifth-best time of 48.71 and Kominsky seventh-best at 48.95. “Lyndsey’s new at it and Ali (third a year ago) knows what it takes,” said Culicerto. “Their times are real similar.”
At the Region 3 meet, the Greenbrier East boys repeated their 2012 championship and the Spartan girls won their second crown in three years. East girls coach Wes Lilly, for one, was ecstatic.
“We were completely thrilled,” he said. “The boys wanted to repeat, and the girls competed out of their minds.” He praised seniors Lindsey McClintic, Brielle Coles, Ashley Morgan (region high jump champ and tied a school record), Ashton Holliday and Sophie Kemp-Sherman for being a steadying influence on the squad.
The Spartans’ 4x400 team, anchored by region individual 400 titlist Shaye Gadomski, is fifth-best (4:12.68) heading into this weekend, and the 4x200 unit is also among those in the running, as is freshman long jumper Maddie McClintic (fifth-best, 15-11 1/2).
Like Lilly, McCutcheon was thrilled with winning region spoils. “We set that as a goal this year,” he said. Prior to the back-to-back wins, the only other team title in school history was in 1992. “It’s a big accomplishment.”
High jumper Trey Cochran, tied with Oak Hill’s Marc Logan for the third-best qualifying height at 6-2, will help lead the Spartan hopes this weekend. Cochran has cleared 6-4 in a meet this spring and 6-6 in practice, according to McCutcheon. Teammate Tyler Hanna qualified at 6-0 and has cleared 6-2. Distance runner Levi Snedegar, fourth-best in the 1600 (4:36.1), also hopes to score points in individual races.
Woodrow Wilson sprinter Ramon Edwards, one of the top entrants in the 100 and 200, will continue his battle with Jefferson sensation Dante Price. At 10.99, Edwards was the fastest 100 qualifier, and he hopes to have made up some ground on Price, who defeated him by 0.33 seconds last spring in a 1-2 finish in the short sprint.
Woodrow distance runner Emily Fedders looks to score some points, especially in the 3200, and sprinter Lashonda McDowell — second in the 400 in the region meet out of the slow heat — has a chance to crack into the scoring in that race.
Oak Hill’s Deon Marion was the fourth-best long jump qualifier (19-11 1/4).
In Class AA, teams such as Independence, Summers County and Nicholas County aim to make good showings.
The Bobcat boys are coming off a Region 3 team win and will be led into action by long jumper TaRon Ayers, whose 19-10 1/2 was the second-best leap statewide last week.
Summers hurdler Emily Smith, runner-up in the state 100 hurdles a year ago, will be looking to go one step higher on the victory podium. She qualified with the fourth-fastest time in her specialty (16.58).
The Nicholas County girls were the Class AA Region 4 champs. The Grizzlies will be led by hurdlers Elizabeth Messer (third in 100 hurdles in 16.54) and Autumn Tyree (fifth in 16.9), the state-leading shuttle hurdle unit (1:08.85) and distance runner Aidan Payton.
The Independence boys will be led by sprinter John Powell, who won Region 3 and led 400-meter qualifying statewide with a clocking of 51.96. Discus throwers Zach Fleshman and Robbie Cuthbert are among the others looking to score points.
The Patriot girls will be led by 400 runner Adriana Cook and discus thrower Megan Testament.
Richwood once again emerged at the top of the Region 3 heap in the single-A ranks, as both Lumberjack squads earned team titles.
The boys shuttle hurdle relay quartet of Gary Boggs, Terry Frazier, Levi Mowery and Zach Bennett had the state’s best region time of 1:02.09. Bennett in the 400 (53.05) and Frazier in the long jump (20-6) also hope to do some damage.
Distance standout Breanna Mazzella, who qualified in the 800, 1600 and 3200, will lead the RHS girls effort. Mazzella has the fastest qualifying time in the 3200 (12:21.98) but St. Marys phenom Maggie Drazba looms as the heavy favorite. Hurdler Haley Hinchman and jumpers Jamie Bailey and Hannah Brown also could be in the mix.
Fayetteville’s Jonathan Gore is a legitimate threat in three events — the 100, 200 and long jump. He has the best qualifying long jump of 21-4.
The Midland Trail boys, who placed second in region competition, will be led by sprinter Ethan Barker and distance runner Devon Steele.
Greenbrier West’s Colby Ennis has the third-fastest entry time of 16.02 in the 110 hurdles.
Valley’s Abby Buchan qualified in four events — 100, 200, high jump and long jump.