BUCKHANNON -- The West Virginia Wesleyan men's and women's track teams starts their outdoor season coming off a fantastic season as conference champions for both on sides.
Leading the team once again for more success is head coach Jesse Skiles.
Coach Skiles earned numerous "Coach of the Year" awards, his most recent award is from last season for the men. Coach Skiles states, "I don't care about the Coach of the Year, honestly. You know, I like the team championships. You don't see any Coach of the Year trophies in my office, but I like the team."
Coach Skiles trains his athletes very hard so they can meet their full potential. Tons of his athletes have set records. He has more athletes on the verge of breaking records soon as well.
"As far as conference marks, we got Nate Moore and Niles Dailey both ran faster than Zach Shreves' indoor record," Skiles remarked. "Ali Crawford broke the indoor 60 hurdle record. Lauren Cheveko broke her own pentathalon indoor record. Tavaris Anderson is six inches short of Brandons long jump record but he broke the triple jump record in outdoor last year and in indoor his freshman year. Sydney Pineault came close to indoor 3k record. So we came close to breaking a few records this year."
Not only does coach Skiles runners have great success on the track and field, but they also perform very well in the classroom.
West Virginia Wesleyans women's track team was awarded the D2 All-Academic award. Over the years his team has won this award over 30 times. He has high expectations that all of his athletes put in the same effort in the classroom, as they do on the track.
"My philosophy is if you are old enough to fight for the country, I shouldn't have to make you come in here and study for two hours," Skiles said.
That is an accurate statement made by coach Skiles. But he also said, "If there is a red flag, then we try to address it internally by getting them a tutor and working with the academic department." Coach Skiles takes much pride in his team for this award.
This outdoor season, the team is looking to improve off of their indoor season.
They are 30 points behind Notre Dame and battling Wheeling Jesuit for the runner up spot.
Skiles stated, "There is not much margin for error, we have to keep everyone healthy."
There is a lot of talent on the team to reach their goal. The top performs so far are javelin throwers: Andrea Paterra, Rachel Czulewicz, Rachel DeMaria, and Abby Buchan. Runners: Pineault, Marshal Sharp, Matt Dearth and Daniel Plaugher. Throwers: Nick Moorhead (leads the league), Dylon Rippeto, Isaac Johnson and Tre Moore.
The future is looking bright for the team.
"There are several freshman that are helping us right now," Skiles said. "Some of the big impact kids so far are Rosa Morris in the throws, Joie Johnston (first team all-conference in cross country. She is also ranked in the 5K). On the men's side we have Chris Vick, Brennan Swin (400M), Collin Walsh (ranked in long distance).
There are about 50 athletes on the team who play dual sports. Some on the football team, soccer team, and basketball team. Unlike some coaches, Coach Skiles likes that his athletes play other sports as well. "I like it because I like having relationships with the other teams. For example, the football coaches now has been the best there has been to me personally in long time. They email me wanting the results and interested on how the team did after meets. I've never had that before from a football side."
On a personal note, when asking what goals he has before he retire, he says "the next one and peace."
If they win this spring then he will have a total of 60 championships. "I just want to see this group win," Skiles remarked. "I don't need any more but if this group doesn't get it then that's one they lost out on. I want to retire happy and for things to be good for the people I work with and the team."
Coach Skiles finds pleasure in seeing other people succeed. Coach concluded the interview saying, "I am really proud of the kids. Also when you cut through how beautiful the school is or whatever success different teams have had, it all comes back to the faculty. I think that's the backbone of everything we do. When you get your degree from here, you will be marketable. I think that above all else is what we have to celebrate here." Then he says, "when you are out recruiting, if you believe in the product you are selling, you aren't really selling."
Written by student-intern Michael Anderson