As with any other sport, yesterday’s track and field stars were — and still are — appreciated by those who followed in their footsteps.
Just ask Tom Pridemore, the former Ansted High School track flash who also achieved football fame at Ansted and with the WVU Mountaineers and the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Although he didn’t run entirely the same events in high school as Tom Reid did, Pridemore — most remembered in track circles for his hurdling exploits — recalls seeing the former Woodrow Wilson sprinter perform in his prime years.
“Tom Reid was a great sprinter,” Pridemore said Saturday. “I can remember watching him.”
On Friday and Saturday, the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission staged a 100th birthday party for the boys state track and field championships. Pridemore and Reid were two of the former track and field standouts invited back for the festivities.
“It’s been fun; it’s bringing back a lot of memories,” Pridemore said Saturday. Being back in town allowed him to visit with athletes and officials from the past, he said. It also gave him the opportunity to see “not guys I raced against, but guys I admired.”
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In the pre-metric days of the state meet, Reid claimed six individual championships in the 100-, 220- and 440-yard dashes from 1970-72 for the Flying Eagles. In the 1970 state meet, he was victorious in the 220 with a time of 21.9 seconds, according to Jesse Skiles’ book detailing boys state meet history from 1914-99. Reid followed that by winning the AAA high-point award in 1971, crossing the line first in the 220 (a record 21.4 seconds) and the 440 (50.3), in addition to helping Beckley’s 880-yard relay team grab top honors. He closed out his prep career in 1972 with another high-point award, winning all three of the shortest open sprints: 100 (10.0, setting a record of 9.7 in trials), 220 (21.1, another record) and 440 (49.4). When the state meet converted to the metric system in 1980, Reid’s 100 and 220 records still stood, although his 9.7 was shared with two others.
“It’s a good honor that they would think enough of us to bring us back, to recognize us for what we did,” said Reid, who was among the former high-point winners introduced Saturday.
One of Reid’s main regrets this past weekend was the absence of one of his fiercest rivals. “I just miss that Mike’s not here,” he said. “He and I battled for two years.”
Mike was Mike Tyson, the former Charleston High star with whom Reid staged numerous classic races on the cinders. Tyson, also a football standout who later competed at Iowa State, was in line for a berth on the 1976 U.S. Olympics track team until an injury sidelined him. He passed away in 2008.
Reid defeated Tyson in the 220 in 1971 and in the 100 and 220 in the 1972 meet. According to the WVSSAC program, his efforts earned Reid the 1972 McCoy Award, named for Huntington coach Ray McCoy and presented by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association to the state’s top trackperson.
At Woodrow, he said he received good guidance from his coach, Pete Culicerto. “I was fortunate to have a good coach in Coach Culicerto. He guided me through the high school years.”
Reid, now a chemical operator in South Carolina, graduated from Woodrow and enrolled at the Baptist College of Charleston (now Charleston Southern University). There, he continued racing for three years, earning NAIA All-American honors and winning the NAIA 220-yard national championship (20.7 seconds) as a freshman. He was inducted into the CSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989.