While most of Greene County’s attention is fixed on just how far the West Greene softball team will go in the postseason, the Waynesburg Central track & field program wrapped up another successful season that included sending six athletes to the PIAA state championship meet. There simply isn’t enough time or space to spill out everything the Raiders accomplished in 2019. Here are a few highlights for those who may have had their focus squarely on the baseball and softball diamonds.

Sometimes things just work out for the best.

After news of the clerical error that nearly kept Daniel Layton from competing in the 110-meter hurdles at the WPIAL championships broke, a nearly unanimous response from the public seemed to pave the way for a PIAA ruling that allowed him to not only compete, but win gold at both the district and state levels. I know this story has already started to fade into the background, but kudos to the PIAA administrators who unanimously overturned a ludicrous decision from District 7 that would have kept him from not only defending his WPIAL crown, but standing on top of the podium at Shippensburg University.

Layton has quietly and humbly put together one of the most outstanding track & field careers in the long and storied history of the Waynesburg Central program. Whether it’s in the pole vault, 1,600, relays or his bread-and-butter event, the soon-to-be graduate will be forever remembered as a true Raider great …

… Speaking of true Raider greats in track, few WPIAL teams can match Waynesburg’s level of tradition in girl’s pole vault. From the pioneering efforts of Jocelyn Lindsay at the turn of the millennium, to Marissa Kalsey, who turned state gold into NCAA Division III gold at Westminster College, WCHS has been a factory for outstanding female vaulters. Not surprisingly, the next great one is already competing for the Red and Black and surpassing the efforts of her notable predecessors.

Earlier this spring, sophomore Taylor Shriver broke records previously held by both Kalsey and Lindsay, setting a personal best mark and top program height of 12-9. With two years of varsity high school competition still ahead of her, who knows just how high Shriver can soar before completing her own chapter to the Raider vaulting legacy …

… Legacy is an appropriate word to use when it comes to describing the man behind the Raider pole vault tradition. Butch Brunell has been training Waynesburg’s high flyers for decades and doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time in the near future. His coaching influence is also being felt at another western Pennsylvania school, but this one is at the college level.

Westminster boasts one of the finest Division III traditions in the event and the man at the head of it used to compete for Brunell and the Raiders. Bradi Rhoades, a 2000 WCHS graduate, has a trophy case jam packed with titles and medals from the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference and NCAA.

Over his 11 years with the Titans, Rhoades has coached a combined 16 indoor and outdoor men’s and women’s national qualifiers in the pole vault. When asked about why she chose to attend the small liberal arts school in the tiny town of New Wilmington instead of a larger institution that could offer her an athletic scholarship, Kalsey pointed to Rhoades as one of the major reasons in her decision. Could he do it again with Shriver? I wouldn’t be surprised if he managed to pull off yet another recruiting coup …

… Even with the likes of Layton, standout thrower Maddie Brooks, state qualifier Caleb Blair and javelin state medalist Scott Benco graduating, expectations won’t slip at all for WCHS. One reason is the sheer amount of athletes that are expected back next year.

There were just under 60 Raiders on the roster, 12 of which were seniors. With a well-supported middle school program cranking out young talent, the future continues to look bright.

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