IT'S NOT always that easy for cross country and track and field athletes from our area to compete in their sports at the Division I level, but here are some success stories this fall. Jody Caldwell: The former Nitro High School standout was one of eight former Kent State athletes to be inducted into the school's athletic Hall of Fame Friday night in Kent, Ohio.
After starring as a hurdler at Nitro from 1986-88, Caldwell competed for four years at Kent and was named the Outstanding Performer at the 1992 Mid-American Conference outdoor championships, winning MAC titles in the high jump and heptathlon. She went on to be a member of the U. S. national heptathlon team and still sits second all-time at Kent State in the indoor and outdoor high jumps."She was an incredible athlete from the moment she arrived on campus," said Rod O'Donnell, Caldwell's coach at Kent State. "I am not sure she realized how good she could be until about her junior year. Like many kids, she matured at that time and began to set high goals for herself and dedicate herself to her sport and her training."
David Caldwell: A former standout at South Charleston High School is running his senior year of cross country at Marshall. As a junior, Caldwell ran an 8K time of 25:42.6 in the Conference USA championships to help lead his team to a fifth-place finish. Last weekend at the prestigious Vanderbilt Commodore Classic, which features many SEC schools, Caldwell finished 30th out of 200 runners with an 8K time of 25:33:10. As a team, Marshall finished ninth out of 24 teams. Other area runners who scored for Marshall at Vanderbilt on the men's side were Caleb Bowen (from Hurricane), Jack Whitney (Ripley), Brian Salmons (Cabell Midland), Jordan Brown Stobbe and Adam Frohnapfel (University High) and Trey Beckett (Cabell Midland). Chelsea Jarvis: The former Capital High runner is a redshirt junior on WVU's women's cross country team. She recently ran for the 25th-ranked Mountaineers at the Toledo Inter-Regional Bubble Buster meet, where she posted a 4K time of 15:39.6.Leslie Thomas: After competing at Riverside, Thomas is now a cross country and track athlete at Marshall. At last week's Vanderbilt Classic, she finished 89th out of 216 runners with a 6K time of 23:29.11. Last year, Thomas was Marshall's top runner, but she is recovering from an injury that kept her out of the team's first meet of the season at Akron two weeks ago. Thomas holds school records at Riverside in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs.
While watching college football Saturday, I couldn't help but think back to the years 1963 and 1969.In 1963, Texas defeated Roger Staubach and Navy 28-6 in the Cotton Bowl to win the national championship. In the opening game of that 1963 season, that same Navy team and Staubach ran over, around and through WVU in Morgantown 51-7. Texas won another national title in 1969, defeating Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. Back then, the gap between the Longhorns and the Mountaineers program seemed a million miles wide. Now, with its Big 12 debut on the books, WVU is now in the same conference as former Southwest Conference power Texas and former Big 8 power Oklahoma. The growth of the Marshall program is also astounding. In the mid-to-late 1960s, the Thundering Herd was just trying to snap the nation's longest losing streak. Now it played at Big Ten Purdue Saturday and has national championships and Heisman Trophy finalists on its resume. It amazes me that while the population of our state, and our pool of Division I athletes has shrunk, the college football programs at our two Division I schools have continued to grow. Reach Frank Giardina at firstname.lastname@example.org