MORGANTOWN — A team is often only as good as its leadership. If that proves the case for the Clay-Battelle High track and field team, the Cee-Bees are likely in good shape.
At the Class A level, it can often be hard to attract enough talent to compete, especially in smaller sports. For Clay-Battelle, there are only five seniors between both the boys’ and girls’ teams, but they have proven their weight in gold.
“They help the younger kids with simple things, like coming out of the blocks, starts, drills, and work ethic. Our two girl seniors have placed at the states each of the last three years,” Clay-Battelle coach Ted Cline said. “People look up to that, and they lead by example. They work hard, and work builds success. They will be missed by the coaching staff and the team when they graduate.”
The success — both among the senior group and the program as a whole — starts with the trio of Addison Ammons, Hailey Carreon and Nathan Swaniger. Ammons currently owns Class A top ten rankings in two individual events, including the second-best pole vault mark of the season. Carreon is inside the top ten in three separate individual events, and together the pair are one-half of the defending state champion Shuttle Hurdle Relay, which currently owns the second-best time this season.
“We have some outstanding freshmen, and results like that keep them working very hard to keep up with those leaders. When you’re surrounded by state champions, you want to get to that level. It just kind of rubs off,” Cline said.
Swaniger currently owns the top Class A time in both the 100 meter and 200 meter sprints. His time in the 100 also ranks second-best among all three classifications in West Virginia, just five tenths of a second behind current Class AA state record holder Sebastian Spencer of Weir.
The success means a lot to Swaniger, but he has also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to shape the younger athletes at Clay-Battelle and show them just what hard work can earn them.
“My freshman year I really looked up to the seniors. I remember I wanted to try and be like them and be as successful as they were. Now that I’m a senior, and this goes back to football, it makes me realize that people who are younger than me, the better an example I can set the more it will drive them to do their best,” he said. “Whenever I was younger, I watched my brother run track. I watched him have to put in the work. It made me realize I’m not going to be able to just come in and beat people because I’m fast. Each day you work is going to make you better and better.”
As the Cee-Bees continue to grow as a track program, which has seen its fair share of success in recent years, Ammons hopes that the leadership demonstrated and results earned on the track by her class will make an impact in the long run.
“With the girls that are on our shuttle team, they know what it feels like to win a state championship, and I hope they don’t want to let that go once we’re gone. I hope they keep striving for it. I hope that the track program builds up again and they realize that it’s a sport they can succeed in at our school,” she said.