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WVU track and field: Former Sissonville star piles up accolades

By Tiffany Benson

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Sydney Cummings, a senior high jumper on West Virginia University's track team, is a Sissonville High grad who has racked up accomplishments on and off the track.

At 22, she is a two-time state champion, a two-time AAU national champion and finished in sixth place at the Big East Championships last year with a jump of 1.70 meters.

Her achievements off the track are just as important to her.

"It's hard to be recognized by the coaches so they can give you a spot. When they come and recruit you, you have to be the allaround package," said Cummings. "It's important to have a total package and not only be focused on being a collegiate athlete but being a student-athlete."

She also has conquered some obstacles as a student by being named a Big East Academic All-Star, making the Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll and maintaining a 3.4 GPA.

"My motivation is to always make my family proud of me and my hometown," said Cummings, "just because I came from such a small town and there's so much support constantly.

"No matter if I do bad at a meet or not, they're always still proud of me and I'm always trying to make them proud."

Cummings has learned to balance her roles as a student and an athlete.

In a normal week she spends about 12 hours in track practice, takes 19 credit hours of class and spends 11 hours on an internship related to her major, child development and family studies.

She practices every day before and after class and does extra cardio after practice on her own time. Also, unless there is a home event, she travels to meets on weekends.

"Sydney and her day-to-day coach have a very good relationship, a relationship built on trust and respect," said Coach Sean Cleary. "The confidence that Sydney displays is simply a result of trusting her coach, herself and the enormous hard work that she undergoes each day."

Evidence of that hard work are some outstanding records. In 2012, she achieved a high jump of 1.73 meters, for which she received first place at the WVU State Farm Games. Then two weeks ago at the Akron Invitational she tied the school record with a jump of 1.78 meters.

"I was feeling really good that day. I knew it could be a good day if I continued to jump the way I did at the lower heights. After I was done, my coach high-fived me and said, 'You finally did something right,' " Cummings said.

"It was really exciting just to know that my name will be here after I'm gone."

Today Cummings and her teammates will compete in the Gold-Blue Open in Morgantown. Other Kanawha Valley athletes on the team include Josie Crouch, a sophomore from Hurricane, and Chelsea Jarvis, a junior from Clendenin.

Last year Cummings recorded a high jump of 1.70 meters at the event. This is her last collegiate competition indoors.

"I'm hoping to get 6 foot, which is only 2 inches away. It seems like a small amount, but to me it's a huge feat," she said. "I'm hoping to break our school record, instead of just tying it.

"I think we're going to set up the progressions for the high jump to a height that would likely get me into nationals."

That would be a great way to finish her senior year.


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