By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Vince Culicerto isn’t worried too much about his girls’ jump to Class AAA from AA this season.
As coach for the Tigers’ football program, he’s aware of what the move means.
“Track’s one of those sports that it’s not that bad (moving to AAA),” Culicerto said. “I feel it on both ends. Football is a lot rougher. “
While Culicerto’s football team struggled for wins against the largest division in West Virginia last season, he doesn’t see the move in track creating the same problem.
“There’s been years that a single-A or AA kid go to the state meet and they’re better than a AAA kid,” Culicerto explained. “It’s not as big of a jump. The thing I’ve seen the most is there’s more quality teams and there’s more open events and more better runners — not necessarily teams but better runners, ya know? It’s not as big a jump as you’d think.”
Culicerto will look to his experienced team to be a catalyst toward AAA success in 2013, especially sophomore Alexandria Kominsky and junior Lyndsey Thompson.
“Allie was third in the 300-meter in the states as a freshman and ran on a couple of our relays that scored last year,” Culicerto said. “Lyndsey was on our relay teams in the 4x100 and 4x200 that scored, and now we’re moving her over to the 300-meter hurdles and high hurdles. She’s doing a fine job right now. “
The Lady Tigers will also look to seniors Kaylee Dickinson and Alicia Marshall in the discus throw. Dickinson finished second and Marshall finished fifth in the state meet last year.
While the wintery weather has made it difficult for many area schools to get quality practice time in, Culicerto said Shady has been moving forward with preparations.
“It’s been tough. We get something done every day though. That’s our goal,” he said. “We’ve understood the problems, and we’ve been out in the cold. If there’s a way to do it, we’re going to.
“Our first two meets have been cold, and we’ve ran well in them,” he continued. “We’ve had a little less injury than in previous seasons.”
Shady Spring placed first and second in its only two meets this season. The Tigers will next compete in the Oak Hill Invitational on Tuesday, April 9.
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The Shady Spring boys track team will also rely on their experience from 2012 as they make the transition to AAA in 2013.
“We’ve got Ben Lilly returning for the 100 and 200 meter and 4x100 and 4x200 relay,” coach Mike “Doc” Evans said. “Jason Young is a senior and running all four relays and doing really well. We may move him to the open 400 meter.”
Lilly and Young were half of a second-place 4x100 and third-place 4x200 team in AA last season, along with outgoing seniors Scott Daniels and Austin Johnson. The duo will have to duplicate its success in 2013 in order to make its presence felt in a deeper AAA field.
“It’s probably going to be a little bit different for us,” Evans said on the move to AAA. “We had some fairly good times with our team last year and were ranked fairly high in AA. This year is going to be a little bit eye opening. There are a lot of fast boys in AAA.”
Evans was optimistic about his team’s chances, however. The team recently competed in a meet in Charleston and lost to only Capital.
“We’ve got some good work in these first two meets,” he continued. “We ran in some terrible weather conditions in Oak Hill. There were 30 mile-per-hour winds, and our boys still finished first.”
The boys will also rely on WVU football commit Houstin Syverston in the shot put and 300 meter hurdler Nathan Gillian. Syvertson and Gillian both placed in the AA state championship meet in 2012.
Like their female counterparts, the boys will join county rival Woodrow Wilson for the Oak Hill Invitational on April 9.
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