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Track at its best

June 6, 2011
Weirton Daily Times

Wow, what a track meet.

I have been to some good ones at Jesse Owens Stadium at Ohio State University, but what I saw unfold Friday and Saturday will stick with this track guy for a long time.

As in sports, a track and field meet is filled with raw emotions and those emotions run the gamut from jubilation to heartbreak, from joy to heartache, from smiles to tears and from happiness to disappointment.

There were close finishes and dominating wins.

All of that happened to the 28 local athletes who competed Friday and Saturday.

I saw the disappointment on faces of athletes who did not perform up to their expectations.

I saw the excitement on faces of athletes who accomplished their goals, or exceeded them.

I saw kids who had to be helped at the finish line, kids who literally spilled their guts and kids who shed tears for various reasons.

There were state meet records and personal records set.

What a great two days.

The two days in Columbus is the face of why sports are so important in our society.

It's about kids at their best even when they aren't at their best.

It's about kids who are not running well, but have to gut it out as they are a member of a relay team and three other people are counting on them.

It's about being excited to stand on the podium in the long jump.

It's about kids who would do anything not to let down their teammates.

It's about kids who decided to run four laps as hard as they can and whatever happens, happens.

It's not about some parent berating a coach because their kid did not play in the most important game of the season.

It's not about some parent complaining about this, that or the other thing.

It's not about the adults.

It's all about the kids.

Yes, the kids.

It's about those kids who stayed extra time in practice to work on their steps, their handoffs, their starts, their finishes.

It's about the kids who have it down, but do it again just because.

The great thing about track is that the stop watch or the tape measurer tells the tale.

It's hard for mom and dad to whine about playing time in track.

You run and the watch tells you how good you are.

You throw or jump and the tape tells you how good you are.

It's pretty simple.

Track and field is an individualistic sport, but teammates are really important.

Catholic Central's Teddi Jo Maslowski leaves the sport as the most decorated athlete and best from the Ohio Valley.

She totaled 15 state meet medals, seven of which are gold. She holds state meet records in the 100 and 300 hurdles.

But, six of those medals, two of which are gold, are because of teammates.

The Duke-bound standout medaled four times in the 4x200 and twice in the 4x100.

The 4x200 teams finished second twice and first twice.

That's about four girls working as one unit for one goal.

Teammates are a really important part of sports and you can be a good one or a bad one.

Big Red's 4x100 boys relay team dropped the baton in Friday's preliminaries.

The foursome was expected to compete for a state title.

"Right after that happened, Shaq (Petteway) came up to Jonathan (Sherrell) and said, 'don't worry about it, it could have happened to any one of us,'" said Steubenville coach Jason Kernahan. "That kind of calmed Jonathan down an awful lot and showed what kind of a leader Shaq is. They could have folded up and had a terrible day, but they didn't. They just said, 'let's just win that one now.'

"That could have gone a complete opposite way. They could have had arguments over it. But what Shaq said to Jonathan meant a lot after something like that happens. It shows the kind of kid he is."

It's about teammates.

Could you imagine what would have happened if Petteway, who is on his way to play football at West Virginia, had handled the situation differently?

Kernahan is right, it could have been a complete mess.

But, a good leader is a good leader and Petteway is a good leader.

Petteway, Sherrell, Josh Thompson and Najee Murray then went out Saturday and set a Division II state meet record in winning the 4x200 relay and that dominating win was a direct result of how Friday's disappointment was handled.

That is sports in all its glory.

It's about how you handle disappointment.

It's about how you handle adversity.

It's about your character when things do not go your way.

Sports is a great teacher for kids.

And more adults should learn from it.

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." James 1:2-6

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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