CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Dylan Rich began his path to greatness with the shortest of races. At the West Virginia Track & Field State Meet, the Buffalo senior will cap his career as one Class A's greatest long-distance runners.
Once a middle school sprinter and hurdler, Rich will look to defend several middle- and long-distance state titles, both individual and team, while adding others at the State Meet, to be held Friday and Saturday at the University of Charleston's Laidley Field.
"He was a hurdler and a high jumper," Bison Coach Richie Wyant said of Rich's former track days before picking up cross country. "Through cross country, he developed a love for long-distance running, so he had the speed prior to the conditioning."
Now, it's a matter of which distance event ranks as Rich's favorite.
"Toward the beginning of the year, I really thought it was the 800(-meter run), but I think I'll really be able to bust out a really good mile (1,600) at the state meet on Saturday."
Rich enters as the defending champ in both events. Last year, Rich set the State Meet record in the mile (4:23.18) and narrowly missed the 800 record, by just .47 seconds, according to records posted at www.runwv.com.
This year, Rich enters with Class A's best times in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, as he mulls a collegiate decision of running at Kentucky, Pittsburgh or Clemson. Rich said he hopes to make a decision this week.
"I think he'll be fine," Wyant said of Rich's motivation this week. "I'm not worried a bit about Dylan. We've not seen the best of him yet. He's going to keep getting better."
In addition to his individual events, Rich will race as part of Buffalo's two-time defending champion 4x800 relay team, which last year broke the State Meet record by 12 seconds.
Another key member of that team is junior Isaiah Robinson, who will also compete individually in the 800, with the state's third-best time. Robinson will also race in the 400 individually.
Other top Bison boys expected to contend among the state's best include Jordan Tucker (100, 200) Hayden Harrison (3,200), Gabe Garrison (110 hurdles) and Cody Sheppard (110 hurdles), as well as every relay.
Though Buffalo boasts many potential point-scorers, the Bison are expected to trail favorites Doddridge County and Williamstown. Doddridge won last year's team title and enters ranked first, with reigning runner-up Williamstown listed second. Tyler Consolidated currently ranks slightly ahead of No. 4 Buffalo.
"Doddridge County, they're an outstanding team and so is Williamstown, but Doddridge has something special going on right now," Wyant said.
Like Buffalo, the sixth-ranked Charleston Catholic boys will chase Doddridge and Williamstown, though several Irish athletes are expected to contend for All-State status.