Get set for 100th state track meet

Keeping a sense of history.

That’s important in virtually every aspect of life.

Our nation prides itself on how far it has come since gaining its independence.

Ditto for our state, which recently celebrated its 150th anniversary.

It’s the same in sports. We always must remember the humble beginnings of each activity and its progress through the years.

The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission realizes that. When the state boys basketball tournament reached 100, the state’s governing sports body organized a banquet and created a week-long celebration featuring past stars and teams during the 100th tournament.

Now, we are about to celebrate another milestone. When the state’s top track and field athletes gather at Laidley Field May 23 and 24, it will mark the 100th state track and field championship.

The first took place in 1914, when Rocco J. Gorman of Charleston High School invited 12 other schools to join his team at Exhibition Park in the state capital.

Since that initial gathering, the meet has taken place each year except for 1917 when it was canceled due to World War I.

Those attending this year’s meet will have the opportunity to purchase a keepsake 24-page program highlighting the history of the meet, including some of its most successful team and individual performances.

Also, officials at Laidley Field will provide a room for a memorabilia display including a power point presentation featuring outstanding performances.

Those who set a state record at the meet have been extended an invitational to attend and to be recognized for their accomplishment.

They also will assist in presenting awards to this year’s winners.

Among those who already have indicated they will be there are Frances Daniell of Parkersburg High and St. Marys High School standout Paul Reed.

Any record holders, state champion coaches, high point individuals and officials are asked to sign in at the computer shack.

I have lots of memories of the track meet, but one in particular stands above the others – the 1995 pole vault performance of Parkersburg High’s Casey Freed.

Just as the meet was breaking for lunch, the PA announcer pointed out Freed was attempting a state record. It seemed like the fans, athletes and time stood still as he made his attempt.

Freed not only set the record, he kept breaking it, finally going 17-feet and attaining all-American status. To this day, no one has equalled his feat.

Teams and athletes from the Mid-Ohio Valley have won more than share of state track titles.

While every title is special, winning at the 100th state meet would carry some extra prestige.

Several area teams and athletes are poised to make some history of their own next week.

Contact Dave Poe at