North Marion's Crane wins WVSSAC Girls Track Coach of the Year

·3 min read

Sep. 17—FAIRMONT — Jeff Crane, head coach of North Marion's girls track team, won the 2021 WVSSAC Girls Track Coach of the Year award after North Marion's state runner-up performance last season.

Crane said he'd been made aware that he'd won the award on Wednesday, when North Marion High Principal Kristin DeVaul interrupted him during class.

"I got a letter from the SSAC," Crane said. "I was in class and [DeVaul] brought it to me — I guess she wanted to see my reaction. I opened it in front of the class and bam, there it was. A huge surprise."

In addition to his team's outstanding 2021 performance, the WVSSAC might have also factored in the success Crane had experienced throughout his long coaching career. The Huskies were also state runners-up in 2016, and had won five straight regional championships in a row.

As for last year though, Crane's Huskies finished just behind Winfield to be named state runners-up, while also winning the 4x200 meter relay outright. With a very young team, Crane was surprised at how well his team was able to do.

"As young as we were, we really did have some success at states," Crane said. "We only took 13 down there and eight of them came away with medals. Team-wise they did do very well; beyond my expectations with them being so young."

The team's performance at state included Abby Masters coming in second in the 200 meter dash, Lauren McGinty coming in second in the 300 meter hurdles, and Gabby Conaway coming in third in the long jump. At the time, Masters was a junior, while McGinty and Conaway were freshmen.

Unsurprisingly, his team was ecstatic to find out about their coach's accomplishment.

"They found out, they were beyond excited," Crane said. "They come by the classroom every other block and somebody's yelling 'Hey coach, congratulations.'"

Crane said he was "still in shock," after winning the award, but it was not the first time he was honored in his career. He was the Big 10 Coach of the Year in 2015, after the Huskies won the conference. Even still, Crane said this award held a special place for him.

"It was just awesome," Crane said. "An awesome feeling to win anything like that, to have the top brass recognize your program."

"That's a once-in-a-lifetime deal."

While Crane was honored individually, the coach was quick to put the credit on those around him.

"It's not a me thing, it's all the kids," Crane said. "It's the effort that they put in. They understand the meaning of hard work, dedication, and how it will pay off."

"They did the job. Not only them, the coaches: coach [Keri] Richardson, coach [Cindy] Davis, coach [Kevin] Masters. It's not just a me thing, it's a team thing, it's a Husky family thing. They might've put my name on the award but we share it with everybody."

Reach Nick Henthorn at 304-367-2548 or by email at nhenthorn@timeswv.com.

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