TENNERTON — For the latest senior stars in the storied tradition of girls track teams for Buckhannon-Upshur High School, the West Virginia State Meet held this past weekend at Charleston’s Laidley Field, was one last opportunity to showcase their ability on the biggest stage in WVSSAC track and field competition.
The meet was filled with emotion as many of the headlining Lady Bucs were set to run their final high school meet. Consistently the fastest runner all season long for Head Coach Jackie Zuliani’s Lady Bucs, senior Catherine Oliveto, coming off a third-place finish in a close 400-meter run in the Class-AAA, Region I meet entered this past weekend looking to end her Buccaneer track career with a bang by adding to her already expansive list of career accomplishments, which include: multiple high point honors over the years, a regional championship, and a pair of relay medals from a previous state track meet. The WVWC soccer commit took an eleventh-place finish in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1:01.41 against a bevy of talented opponents from across the state.
Recently crowned regional discus champion and fellow senior Cameron Zuliani narrowly missed out on bringing home the state title, with her toss of 124’ 5” coming a few inches short of Preston County’s Sierra Davis’s state-championship winning mark of 125’ 2”.
These two seniors also featured prominently in three of the Lady Bucs four state qualifying relay teams. With pair of Oliveto and Zuliani leading the way, the Lady Bucs posted several top-ten finishes in the meet’s relay events. The duo, alongside by Pugh and Cale, almost walked away with a state championship in the 4x102.5-meter shuttle hurdles relay, finishing in a close third, with a time of 1:07.94. In the 4x200-meter relay, the team of Oliveto, Zuliani, Pugh, and Cale took ninth-place honors, battling through a stacked field to garner a top-ten finish with a time of 1:49.95. In the 4x400-meter relay, Oliveto, Pugh and Zuliani, were joined by sophomore Miah Reger. The four Lady Bucs combined for a time of 4:23.20, picking up their second-consecutive top-ten finish, crossing the finish line as the ninth fastest relay pairing in the state.
In other notable performances this past weekend, freshman runner Samantha Shreve posted a solid debut at states, laying claim to a ninth-place finish in the 3200-meter run with a time of 12:00.10. Junior Chloe Cale got her day started with the 100-meter preliminary race, finishing back in thirteenth-place with a time of 17.48 in the events qualifying heat, missing out on the finals. Cale got back on track with a strong fifth-place finish in her signature event, the long jump. Cale’s leap of 16’ 5” placed her in contention for a medal, but ultimately fell just short of a spot on the podium. Junior classmate Dezi Pugh took a third-place finish in the 300-meter shuttle hurdles, clearing the 33” obstacles in just 47.71 seconds. The only qualifying relay team not led by the dynamic senior duo of Oliveto and Zuliani, was the 4x800-relay team. This young team, consisting of sophomores Reger, Mia Appey and Ashley Catlin, as well as the talented freshman Shreve took a fourteenth-place finish with a time of 10:41.26. These four athletes will headline a strong group of returners for next year’s edition of the Lady Bucs track team. These four young student-athletes will enter next year with new roles and new expectations after making a major impact and qualifying for the state meet as underclassman. Many of these girls will be tasked with stepping into the leadership roles left vacant by the departure of both Oliveto and Zuliani to the collegiate ranks, as well as help their coach guide the next generation of B-UHS Lady Buccaneer track greats.
Morgantown won the overall girl’s state track championship after compiling 96 total team points. Jefferson finished in a distant second-place with 74 total team points. Hurricane (45) finished third, Parkersburg (44) finished fourth, while Huntington (42.5) rounded out the top five. The Lady Bucs ended the meet tied for eleventh with 18 total team points.