River’s McCullough to run hurdles at W.Va. Wesleyan

The track and field coaches at several colleges, including Cincinnati and Ohio University, have been very unhappy this weekend.

One of the most prized recruits came off the board Friday during a ceremony at River High School.

Lady Pilots’ state champion Cassidy McCullough inked her National Letter of Intent and will continue both her academic and athletic careers at West Virginia Wesleyan next season.

“It’s a great all-around school,” McCullough said. “When I visited, everyone was incredibly nice and welcoming. Plus, Coach (Jesse) Skiles had a very positive attitude toward my possible contributions to the team.”

McCullough’s college decision was difficult, but then she took a visit to Wesleyan, which is located in Buckhannon.

“This was a long process that was constantly on my and my family’s minds,” McCullough said. “I struggled with the decision of whether or not to go Division I or Division II, but once I visited Wesleyan, the decision really became much easier. I just loved the size and closeness of the community.”

With the collegiate process out of the way, McCullough can now focus on trying to defend her Division III state title this season. However, she’s got plenty of goals in mind before the postseason.

“I’m extremely happy to have this decision out of the way,” McCullough said. “It’s like having a big weight lifted off your shoulders and now I can just be excited for what’s to come.”

For the first time in her illustrious prep career, McCullough will enter this season as the hunted.

As the state champion, she’ll have a huge target on her back immediately.

“Knowing that people are trying to beat me will motivate me more throughout the season,” McCullough said. “Knowing what I am capable of from last season has given me more confidence.”

Along with the state title, which she claimed with a time of 44.96, McCullough was the OVAC, district and regional champion in the 300 low hurdles. However, she did much more than that for the Lady Pilots.

McCullough, who placed sixth in the state lows as a sophomore, was also fifth in the high hurdles at the state meet, posting a 15.98.

She was also a state qualifier in the 200 meters after claiming the district and regional titles in the half-lap dash.

This season, McCullough will be keeping a close eye on the stopwatch as she attempts to lower her personal records in all three events, especially the lows.

“I would really like to get into the 43s in the hurdles,” McCullough said.

From what Skiles, who owns 51 conference titles in the West Virginia Conference between women’s and men’s track and women’s and men’s cross country, has told McCullough, she’ll be vying for time in the 400 hurdles, relays and possibly the open 200.

“I know I’ll have to work on my endurance, but I still have to continue to improve my hurdling form and speed to compete well at the next level,” McCullough said.

“I am motivated to be the best that I can be. The feeling of winning is indescribable, and it’s a feeling that you never want to forget.”

Along with the aformentioned Lady Bearcats and Lady Bobcats, other programs McCullough considered were Ashland and Wheeling Jesuit.

Along with track, McCullough has also been a four-year mainstay with the Lady Pilots’ basketball team. She helped lead the Lady Pilots to three consecutive district tournaments. She’s been chosen for the annual OVAC All-Star Game next month.

McCullough is also a standout in the classroom.

She’s a member of the National Honor Society and has been an all-PVC scholar for four years. She’s also taken part in the school food and blood drives.

Cassidy, who is the daughter of Mike and Raychelle McCullough, is undecided about her major, but she did say she’s leaning toward either sports medicine or physican’s assistant.

Staskey can be reached at sstaskey@timesleaderonline.com