The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

April 26, 2014

Lilly runs for both family and school

Shady sprinter not intimidated by strong competition in Class AAA

They thought it couldn’t be done.

Ben Lilly had to show them.

The Shady Spring sprinter finished a very respectable fifth in the 100 meter dash last May at the state track meet. While he had excelled his first two seasons in the Class AA ranks, some questioned how he would fare when the Tigers moved up to Class AAA.

“Nobody ever thought anyone from Shady would qualify in AAA,” he said. “I’m glad I proved people wrong.”

Lilly is off to a slow, but good start to his senior campaign. He finished third Thursday at the H.B. Thomas Invitational on his home track with a time of 11.64.

He had run the 100 in 11.45 seconds last May at UC-Laidley Field, and in a meet earlier this season in Charleston, he knocked .09 seconds off that time.

“I’ve run decent, but I know I can improve some more,” he said. ‘The weather has screwed with us real bad, but I think I’m doing a  whole lot better.”

Lilly worked hard in the offseason to build his stamina, including some running in Australia last summer. He also played forward for Shady’s soccer team.

“I want to get stronger so I can come out of the blocks stronger. I’ve improved a lot since my freshman year, and I’m proud of it,” he said. “I’m glad I have these coaches here to help me go through this.”

Shady coach Vince Culicerto has been pleased with Lilly’s progress.

“We started out in cold weather, and sprinters don’t like that,” he said. “It’s warmer now, and he’s improving meet by meet.”

Lilly likes to get centered, mentally, before he runs.

“Every sprinter has his own tactics. I like to get in the block and pray, because I lost a few family members over the years that I wish could have seen me run,” he said. “I know they’re up there watching me, and I know they’re proud.

“Then I clear my mind and focus on getting to the finish line as fast as I can.”

Lilly is not intimidated by competing against much bigger schools.

“It’s a little different. You have more people to worry about,” he said. “But I just focus on getting on the blocks and running. You just run your event.”

Besides the 100, he also runs the 200 meter dash and the 4 x 200 relay. He was fourth in the 200 in the H.B. Thomas meet.

Lilly wants to do well at states this year, and he wants to make a mark at Shady.

“I want to do the best for my school, go to states and place,” he said.

“I hope everyone here will realize what I’ve done, and I hope they appreciate all the athletes who run.”

Shady Spring will enter the Gazette Relays May 2-3 at UC-Laidley Field.

— E-mail: dstillwell

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