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To spill your guts is OK

May 23, 2011
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor (mmathison@heraldstaronline.com) , The Herald-Star

Triumphs and heartbreaks or something in the middle were the case during the West Virginia State Track and Field Championships Friday and Saturday at the University of Charleston's Laidley Field.

That will also be the case in two weeks at the Ohio State Track and Field Championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at Ohio State University.

If you are going to be involved in athletics, that will always be the case.

Somehow, it's a little different in track and field.

I saw athletes post personal bests and crash and burn.

I saw athletes who couldn't walk after their races and some who looked like they didn't care.

I saw athletes walk off the track glad, mad or sad.

I saw batons dropped, hurdles smacked, false starts called, people no-height foul too often and have step problems.

Why kids have step problems in field events at this time of year is far beyond me.

And, just for the record, why long jumpers still run the wrong way up the runway to get their step is beyond me. You run one way into the wind and the other way with the wind at your back.

It's called a tape measurer. Use it.

I saw state records, gentle surprises and huge upsets.

I saw athletes run down or get run down.

I listened to humble athletes give interviews and heard of cocky ones not give interviews.

I didn't see anybody lose their lunch on the infield after their race (and if they did there would have probably been 52 announcements stating that was no longer permissible), but I did see kids not able to walk after they crossed the finish line.

That's the way you run track - wobbly legs and all.

It was a great meet.

Oak Glen's Alexis Burch emerged as someone to watch.

She owned the track Saturday.

The sophomore scored 23 points, 2 behind Poca's Adrian Cunningham.

Burch won the 400 and finished second in the 100 by .01.

She teamed with Paige Smearman, Amy Webster and Megan Collins in the 4x200 and with Collins, Kelsey Chambers and Webster in the 4x400.

Burch anchored those winning relays, coming from behind in both.

"I never dreamed I would have won," she said of the 400. "I wanted to do the best I could. That's all I was worried about."

The Golden Bears return a lot of runners who saw the track Friday and Saturday.

Things are looking up again at Oak Glen.

Weir High sophomores Alexis Virtue and Kristen Mastrantoni impressed with their 3200 runs. They both broke Mastrantoni's school record set two weeks ago.

"Last year I wasn't good at all," Mastrantoni admitted. "I had a hard time running a 6:30 in the mile. I ran over the summer and ran cross country. Our workouts have been hard and everything has really helped me. This is a big improvement from last year. I'm just shocked. I'm really pleased with how the season turned out this year."

It's called hard work.

Don't be allergic to it.

The pair will look for two new members of the 4x800 relay team, the two-time defending Class AA champs, as the other two members, Tricia Marker and Sarah Cline, will graduate.

Madonna's Kaitltyn Conner came out of nowhere, so to speak, to finish fourth in the Class A long jump at 15-6. I like her chances next year.

I saw Cabell Midland sophomore Jacob Burcham win the 800 (1:54.01), 1600 (4:08.8) and 3200 (9:11.29) in Class AAA, set three meet records in each race and watched Brandon Doughty of Jefferson High School give every ounce of energy he had to beat Burcham, including a head-first dive at the 800 finishing line.

Burcham is special.

It was a job to watch him run. He ran 4:38.10 in the 1600 as an eighth-grader. It is a national record.

He is the top-ranked sophomore runner in the nation and it is easy to see why.

His 9:11.29 in the 3200 included a 4:48 first 1600 and 4:23 second.

Burcham has run 4:11.63 in the mile at the Penn Relays and his goal is to break the four-minute mark. I don't see why he can't.

He has run 15:05.0 in the 5000.

Those marks would also lead Ohio in all divisions.

This kid is good.

One of the best stories to come out of Charleston was that of Liberty Harrison's Brandon Franklin, the only male athlete from his school in the meet.

He won the Class AA 100, 200, 400 and long jump, finishing in fifth-place in the team race and winning the high-point award by 17 points.

He went 11.07, 22.36, 48.43 and 21-9. He 400 mark is a state meet record.

He's a junior.

St. Marys sophomore Maggie Drazba won the Class A 800, 1600 and 3200 and set two state meet records and tied the other.

Her 5:14.08 and 11:07.47 runs are state records and her two-lap dash in 2:24.32 tied the state record.

There were 14 state meet records set and one tied during the weekend.

I still do not understand why the state meet is run differently than any other meet, with a different schedule.

These double finals are just plain dumb.

In addition to the 100, 200 and 100 and 110 hurdles, qualifying races should also be held in the 300 hurdles, the 400 and the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relays on Friday.

The best relay teams should have to pass the baton well two days in a row in order to be state champs.

Is it hard on the athletes?

Yes.

And, so what?

It should be hard to win a state championship.

It should be a tough turn around.

I'm also still trying to figure out why judges hand out popsicle sticks at the end of the distance races.

If the camera and F.A.T. can catch the winners in all the other races, why the popsicle sticks like it is a cross country meet?

The kids, for the most part, are dead tired and do not want to be handed a stick with a number on it.

Period.

Please, stop with the time schedule.

Go to a rolling schedule so you no longer hold a race for five or eight or 11 minutes just to keep the time schedule. There are too many intangibles to stay on that schedule.

Thank you to the announcer and the lady (sorry, I have no names) in the press box at the track meet. For years getting results has been much too difficult. This year it was perfect for us sports writers.

Thank you very much.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at mmathison@heraldstaronline.com)

 
 

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