MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - James Jett and Chelsea Carrier-Eades left track and field high school legacies at Jefferson and Buckhannon-Upshur, respectively, that might have appeared unreachable when each graduated and grew into All-Americans many times over at West Virginia University.Dante Price and Emily Godwin created their own standout identities at Jefferson and Buckhannon-Upshur and are now freshmen just beginning their collegiate careers - Price at Virginia Tech and Godwin at North Carolina.Price and Godwin followed in their predecessors' footprints - Price as a sprinter, like Jett, and Godwin as a hurdler and jumper, like Carrier-Eades.Like their predecessors, Price and Godwin won a collection of individual gold medals throughout their prep careers.Like their predecessors, Price and Godwin are now winners of the Ray McCoy Awards as the top track and field athletes in the state for 2013, as awarded by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association."We were just passed the torch at our given times," Price said.Price and Godwin also shared one more common trait - they supplanted the 2012 winners after both finished second in last year's balloting behind Cabell Midland's Jacob Burcham, a three-time winner, and St. Marys' Maggie Drazba, both distance standouts.Other voting finalists were Dylan Rich of Buffalo, Abe Miranar of Bridgeport and Matthew Brafford of George Washington for boys, and University's Amelia Paladino, Frankfort's Bria Welker and Washington's Devyn Hosby for girls.Price won the state 100- and 200-meter dashes for the third straight year, added a 400-meter crown while competing in the event for the first time, and notched a fourth gold medal in the 4x200 relay on his way to claiming high-point honors in the Class AAA state meet as Jefferson won its fourth straight team title. A year earlier, he anchored the state meet-record-setting 4x100 relay unit. Career-wise, he captured seven individual golds after two second-place finishes as a freshman.
Godwin claimed Class AAA high-point meet honors for the team champions after winning both the 100- and 300-meter hurdles plus the high jump and long jump crowns. A year earlier, she also scored a high 40 points by winning all four events including record-setting meet marks in both hurdle races.In the eyes of both of their coaches, it was a team-first approach that was simply golden for Price and Godwin."Dante was the ultimate team player," Jefferson coach Craig Hunter said. "He would do anything you asked him to do. He always went the extra mile and his work ethic was like nobody else."Hunter added that Price "wasn't necessarily a vocal leader but he led by example. His teammates would see what he was doing, where it took him, and they gravitated to him. If he worked hard in practice, they'd work hard, too."
It was the same for Godwin."More than anything, she was just a hard worker and a great kid," Buckhannon-Upshur coach Jackie Zuliani said. "You can have a fantastic athlete but their attitude might not be the greatest and might not be coachable because they know they're good."
"But Emily was very humble and would help her teammates and congratulate her competition. You can always find good athletes but she has the whole package as an athlete, student and citizen."Both Price and Godwin felt winning the state team championships was the ultimate way to end their high school careers.And following past McCoy winners from their respective high schools adds a personal touch.While Jett excelled at Jefferson in the late 1980s on his way to winning an Olympic gold medal and playing in the National Football League, Carrier-Eades was almost a warm-up act for Godwin.Godwin was in middle school when Carrier-Eades was in high school so their paths crossed a few times during practice."Emily talks about how Chelsea pushed her and was a role model for her in working hard," Zuliani said.
Godwin wasn't the only one observing Carrier-Eades. She was viewed as a heroic figure."She was a big name in West Virginia and our little town," Godwin says. "She's not only a great athlete but very humble and a great person I always looked up to."Price said "individual goals always came second to team goals. I knew if I would do well, it would help us achieve our team goals."Both Price and Godwin will be honored by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association at the nation's oldest statewide athletic banquet, the 68th annual Victory Awards Dinner, on May 4 at the Charleston Civic Center.