By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
You might say Ben ‘B.J.’ Lilly burns up the track at Shady Spring High School.
“We like to tease B.J. that he runs with his feet on fire,” coach Vince Culicerto said. “He’s the fastest guy we’ve got.”
Lilly, who helped the Tigers finish runner-up in the Class AA 4x100 relay, and third place in the 4x200 in May at the state track meet in Charleston, has been invited to represent the USA next summer in The Down Under Track & Field Meet in Australia.
The junior is one of 300 young athletes from America who will compete, and one of only six from West Virginia.
Lilly will leave June 30 and will spend seven days in Australia. In the offseason, he hopes to gain sponsorships from area businesses.
He played soccer in the fall, scoring three goals as a striker for Shady. Running track is his first love, however.
“I started in middle school. One of my teachers thought I’d be good,” Lilly said. “I’ve stuck with it.”
His strategy in running is simple. Get out in front and stay there.
“I start out fast and strong in the blocks. A faster start helps me keep ahead of people,” Lilly said. “I train myself every day to run to get a faster time. I like to be a second ahead, rather than a second behind.”
Of all the events, he prefers the 200-meters, where he finished ninth in the trials and just missed the finals at states last year.
Lilly said the energy really flows when you hit the final curve.
“You hear your school and your teammates calling your name,” he said. “It gets your adrenaline going and it makes you push faster.”
Having the best kick on the team helps as well, whether in the 200 or the relays. He runs the 1st leg of the 4x100 to try to give the Tigers the lead, and he does the 3rd leg in the 4x200 to maintain the lead.
“B.J. does a good job,” Culicerto said. “He’s just a little old fellow. Quiet. But he gets on the that track and he can hang with the best of them.
“He’s a hard-working kid, and a good-natured boy. He’s fun to be around.”
Lilly’s best time in the 200 was a 23:25 last spring in the Oak Hill Lions Club Invitational.
But it was a meet at Cabell Midland High School in Ona that was most memorable for him.
“It was our first time against AAA teams, and some at school doubted we’d do anything,” Lilly recalled. “But we did what we were supposed to do. My (relay) team got first, and I got second in the 200. I was proud we showed people we can compete with anybody.”
He hopes to create some more excitement this spring, as Shady moves up to the AAA ranks.
“I want to make a good name for my school, so people will come to Shady and run track for us,” Lilly said. “I also want to do good for my family and make them happy.”
Lilly is the son of Virginia Kincaid and Douglas Lilly.
Anyone who would like to sign up as a sponsor can contact him at 304-763-2082.
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