TENNERTON — During her highly-succesful tenure at Buckhannon-Upshur, Jackie Zuliani has coached some of the best athletes to ever compete in the state meet.
Zuliani, who has guided the Lady Bucs to three state titles and a runner-up finish, puts Leah Stankus among that special group.
“I’m so proud of what Leah has achieved,” Zuliani said. “She has worked really hard in practice and has always done what was asked of her.”
Stankus joins the likes of legendary Lady Buc track standouts Emily Godwin and Chelsea Carrier to qualify for states in four different individual events.
When the state meet begins today in Charleston, Stankus will compete in the 100 and 300 hurdles and the 100 and 200 dashes.
“Looking back at my old stats, I believe Leah is just the third [athlete] from Buckhannon-Upshur to [qualify in four events], not including relays,” Zuliani said. “That says a lot when you look at the other two [Godwin and Carrier].”
Stankus will have some company in Charleston as Iris Kolenich, Makenzi Lewellyn, Kaitlyn Luterek and Breanna Morgan qualified in individual events, along with the 4x400 relay team.
Kolenich, a sophomore, is entered in the high jump, while Lewellyn, a freshman, will compete in the pole vault.
“I was happy to see Iris make it in the high jump this year,” Zuliani said. “And Makenzi and [twin sister] Kennedi Lewellyn just learned to pole vault a few months ago and continued to get better.”
Zuliani added Kennedi Lewellyn just missed qualifying for states in the pole vault, losing a jump off on her last attempt.
Luterek, a sophomore, and Morgan, a freshman, are entered in the shot put and discus, respectively.
“Both Kaitlyn and Breanna have shown improvement and are dedicated to working hard,” Zuliani said.
The 4x400 unit includes Makenzi and Kennedi Lewellyn, Kolenich and freshman Faith Auvil.
“Faith has really came along,” Zuliani said. “She has only ran the 400 one time and took four seconds off her split.”
The state meet runs through Saturday at Laidley Field.
“I’m very proud of the girls,” Zuliani added. “They are examples of what true student-athletes look like and proof that hard work and dedication pays off.”