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Coaching Legends Of The Oval

May 16, 2018
Wetzel Chronicle

I was so sad to hear when Magnolia long-time track and cross country head coach Wayne Fetty passed away. I was just as sad to hear long-time head boys track coach Craig Schneid was retiring from teaching as well as coaching. Years past, another well known girls head track coach - Gregory Swords - also retired, not only coaching, but teaching also.

Because of this, my son Chris - who ran for Coach Schneid and was on one of his many state track championships - told me I should write a story on Schneid. While talking with Coach Schneid, he said to think about writing one story on all the track coaches, and include Wayne Fetty and Greg Swords. Later I found out, through Coach Swords, that Dave Bohrer was also a track coach that also won some titles. It didn't take me long to say, "You betcha!" I have always wanted to write a story on these coaches, but was afraid I would miss some things. I asked Coaches Schneid and Swords to help me with some names and events that I wasn't quite aware of.

Everytime I started to write something, I hesitated, because I didn't want to promote one without the other, and when I heard that Coach Schneid was retiring, it all started to come together.

Starting with Coach Schneid and moving down the line with Coach Swords and Coach Fetty, this will be a column I will enjoy writing, like the one I did for Coach Gard Curtis.

I knew him first hand, and it was easy to write. It will be the same with these guys too, as Coaches Schneid and Coach Fetty had coached two of my sons in track and cross country.

With Coach Swords, he was the girls track coach that I had the pleasure to chat with a great deal at meets, and any time I needed to know something sports wise, he knew when, where, and why on everything. He had a mind that remembered a lot of things, just like my friend Bob Montgomery, who also was a head coach at John Marshall in baseball, that also just retired.

Coach Schneid was the head boys track coach from 1990 through last year. He stopped coaching at Magnolia and coached at Wheeling Central and won a state championship there.

Coach Schneid has won 10 state tournaments, and has tied for the most state titles in West Virginia track history. In his 10 state titles, nine were from Magnolia. He has coached 42 individual state champions, including his son Aaron at Wheeling Central.

He has also had 28 relay teams win state titles, and to top that, he has had eight athletes win high points at state.

In addition, he has eight state meet records still on the books, and he has had three runner-up teams at the state track meet.

He has been named state track coach of the year four times, and OVAC Coach Of The Year (all sports) in 2002, as well as Dapper Dan Man of the Year in 2003.

In just 12 years, Coach Schneid has coached nine state championships, two second place finishes, and one third place finish.

He has coached a state champion event in everything, but pole vault, as well as breaking every school record, but the pole vault and 3,200 meters - what an accomplishment.

Some of his state champions that I can remember, and has had the honor of watching perform, are:

1987: Brian Walton becomes the first runner in Magnolia history to run a sub 2:00 800.

1990: The 4x400 team runs a 3:26.08 to set smash the state meet record in pouring rain. Kent Pilant, Mike McKowen, Matt McDiffitt, and Chup Robinson.

1991: Mike Barrows high jumps 7'1" at Shadyside Relays to set a state and valley record. Named No. 1 high jumper in the nation by Track and Field news.

1991: Kent Pilant in one meet runs a 14.3, 14.2, 49.5, and another 14.2 at the Fred Tweedlie meet at John Marshall. Kent set the state record in the intermediate hurdles later that year.

1998: The 4x800 team of Jonathan Forbes, Chris Crawford, Jonathan Forbes, Josh Watson run the second fastest time in state meet history and set a school record. All four members were running the relay at state for the first time.

1998: Josh Watson and Jonathan Forbes both break 2:00 in the 800 at the state meet finals, the only times teammates in AA-A have accomplished that.

1998: The team scores 38 points in the final three events to win the state meet. In the 800 Russell Powell and Jon Pfhol run 2 and 3. Kenny Fisher and Lee Maine run 2 and 3 in the 200. The team of Aaron Smith, Jagady Blue, Russell Powell, and Kenny Fisher win the 4x400.

1999: Josh Watson runs a 1:55.64 to just miss setting the state record in the 800. That was Josh's fourth race in 22 hours.

1999: The 4x100 breaks the state meet record. Aaron Long, Derek Palmer, Jamie Long, Jeff Lemasters.

1999: Jamie Long, not even picked to place, wins the long jump at the state meet.

2002: Josh Natali wins three events and a relay as a junior. He ran top five times in two of those events. Senior year Josh breaks the state record in the high hurdles even though he smashed the 9th hurdle and unfortunately was beaten by .02 seconds.

Magnolia Head Cross Country Coach Wayne Fetty's teams have won five boys and four girls state championships. They also won a boys and a girls AA State invitationals, when the SSAC made Cross Country one class (essentially the same as AA championship).

His teams never won a track championship, but had a couple of runners-up. Wayne, also was the National Cross Country Coach of the year.

Dave Bohrer had a girl championship in 1979 and runners- up in 1980 and 1984. His teams also won a pair of OVAC championships too.

While Swords was coaching the girls, he won four state championships, and was state runners-up. He also won 10 regionals and seven OVAC championships and just as many OVAC runners-up in his 22 years. Highlighted by 1988 through 1999, his Magnolia girls squads dominated the State AA and the OVAC AAA ranks.

"During my 22 years with the girls track and field teams at MHS, we were very fortunate to have numerous groups of athletes, who were willing to sacrifice their time and energy to put Magnolia on the spring sports map," said Swords.

"Year in and year out we continually fielded a highly competitive team, that when we walked into the stadium, other teams stopped and looked. Whether it be the Smurfs of the late 80s, the great well-rounded teams of the 90s or the outstanding tall athletic groups of the 2000s, nearly every team was a threat to win the meet they attended. Only the two teams that didn't have a practice facility most of the year struggled. The 1991 team went 193-2, and didn't win the State Championship. They lost twice to Ravenswood, and they beat Ravenswood twice. They also outscored every OVAC team including all of the AAAA schools. The 1997 team won the OVAC 157-63 over the second place team," said Swords.

"The 2003-2005 teams were good enough to have won the States every year, if not for egregious errors in the SSACs classifying of certain AA schools that should have been rated AAA (not sour grapes, facts). Well, maybe a little sour. I have and always will say that it took a bunch of little teenage girls from New Martinsville, WV to drag me to all of those victories; State, OVAC, Regional, and Invitational over the years. I am very proud of all of them, especially the kids, who competed on the "no facility" teams, for the extra sacrifices they made for our schools success."

"I did get named WV State Girls Track Coach of the Year twice (1985 and 1995), because of their efforts. Trust me, I am happy to share the accolades with each kid, and with the other 20 teams. I, also, was a finalist for All Sports State COY in 1985, largely due to the track title, but also because some of those same kids powered us to consecutive state runners-up in basketball," said Swords.

"I am so happy to see the renewed competitiveness of the recent Girls Track and Field teams at MHS, especially that absolutely fabulous group of kids that won the 2016 State Championship, without a doubt one of the three or four greatest girls teams ever at Magnolia," said Swords.

"My hat is off to all of the vast list of MHS Girls Track and Field athletes, who have made the great effort to put our little school on the map for the past 43 years," said Coach Swords. "God bless everyone of you, who put on the Blue an Gold, and wore it to the final race of the year. "Go Big Blue."

Some of the girl state Champions were, Beth Parsons, Carla Taylor, Alpharetta Roberts, Sheryl Moore, Anne Staney, Sherry Lemasters, Michelle DeBolt, Renee Smittle, Diane Matt, Beth Light, Julie Miller, Tara Winland, Michelle Glow, Gretchen Kacor, Dani Hayes, Marsha Fisher, Lisa Thomas, Shawna Jackson, Ashley Smittle, Heidi Lemley, Katie Minger, Aurora Spang, Katie Swords, Emily Strother, Charity Pefferman, Andrea Robinson, Jodi Richardson, Heather Quinet, Nicole West, Vicki Swords, Jill O'Neil, Ashley Bland, Emily Smith, Natalie Spang, Vanessa Baxter, Sarah Peard, Shelly Smith, Hilary Heinzman, Allison Rothlisberger, Micah Bell, Amanda Howell, Kelsey Spang, Amber Gray, Linda Makris, and King..

I know that I most likely have missed a great deal in track, but when you try to name names, it's most of the time a given than there will be some that I, or the coaches has forgot or has slipped our minds. I'm am sorry, but please let me know who I might have missed to add to my collection.



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