The Press Box for May 22
Congratulations to all the kids from Wetzel and Tyler county schools who competed in the state track and field championships in Charleston this past weekend. Both counties represented very well, some came away with medals and some didn’t, but all are winners.
The state track meet officially ends the 2018-19 school year sports season and the three week summer season will soon begin. It’s a time when coaches and athletes get together under the rules of the WVSSAC and spend time in anticipation for the following school year. Coaches get a chance to see just what they have for the upcoming year and the kids get the opportunity to showcase their skills, impress on the coaches and work on conditioning as they compete in shootouts, spike outs, and 7 on 7 football scrimmages.
Coaches get to spend time getting to know new kids and younger ones moving up from Middle School. They hit the gym and weight rooms and are on the football field sweating it out often wondering what the heck they got themselves into. But when the next season comes around it will all have been worth it.
Paden City has a new head football coach for the 2019 seaso, but not a new face. The Wetzel County B.O.E. hired ex-Wildcat three sport-star Zach Heasley to fill the shoes of longtime mentor, coach Brent Croasmun who retired after 30 years. Coach Heasley played four seasons for Coach Croasmun and three seasons at West Liberty University. The Wildcats have struggled with numbers over the years, but look for that to change as Heasley brings new energy to the program.
Heasley knows the community well and should be able to impress upon the kids the needs of the program. He also brings to the table a great work ethic that he’ll pass on to Wildcat athletes. If he gets the numbersthe Cat’s could be on their way back to the glory days. It won’t happen overnight, but give him a few years and I think will see good things. One thing I saw from Heasley during his playing days was a will to win, I think that will carru over in his coaching career.
I spoke to Coach Heasley recently and he is working hard and planning ahead for 2019. We’ll have much more to say about Paden City football when the season draws near.
Coach Jennifer Yeater has been working non-stop since last year to make sure her volleyball team has been busy. Several of the girls have been involved in club ball and have really improved on their skills as individuals and team players. Yeater returns the entire team from last year and will be tough competition for whoever they play. Look for some exciting previews coming soon.
Just as I predicted the weather at the state track meet turned out to be a scorcher. The sun was out, the temperatures in the high 80’s with the turf temperature on the field over 100 degrees.
Perfect weather for a championship track meet.
It reminded me of years ago when the Bellaire, Ohio relays was the premier track event in the whole state of Ohio. Everyone that was everyone went to Bellaire on that weekend. The best of the best runners from big schools to small schools from several states made their way there.
This was in a time when before everything went to meters. The 100 was 100 yards, the 200 was 200 yards and so on. Paden City had some real fine runners back then and in 1974 the Wildcats sent a team to the meet. It was normal for teams from Michigan, Cleveland, Columbus, Pittsburg or Cinncinatti to get the glory, but on this day it was Paden City’s 200 yard speedster Robert Gatian who came down the stretch to win the event and grab gold, showing the boys from the big cities that hard work and pays off at any level. That’s a day I’ll never forget and goes down in Paden City history as one of the great feats for a high school athlete. I was Gatian’s senior year and the same school year that he and his twin brother Richard both played on the state championship basketball team. By the way Robert was not often pushed to hard in his races but when he was it was Richard who was at his heels.
My top five sports performances for this week all come from the state track meet. 1.