Pelion saw the end one of outstanding career and the beginning of another potentially remarkable career at the Class 2A state track and field meet this spring.
Senior Shane Kyzer put aside past state-meet disappointments in both track and cross country and came away with wins in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs. Meanwhile, seventh grader Nevada Minard evoked memories of former Pelion star distance runner Diana Willard by winning the same two events at state in her first try.
“To me, Shane was the most underrated distance runner in the state this year, but he finally showed what I knew he was capable of doing when it mattered the most,” said veteran Pelion coach Mark Bedenbaugh.
Kyzer’s sweep came at the expense of Broome standout Stefan Shealy, the acknowledged dominant force in 2A distance running. Kyzer finished second at Shealy at the state cross country finals in 2006 and 2007, and placed third behind the Centurions star in the 3200 in track last year and fourth in the 1600.
This time, it was a different story. Kyzer came in as the No. 1 seed in the 1600 with a 4:34.18 qualifying time, five seconds faster than Shealy. He then went on to post a 4:31.55 at state to take the gold. Shealy, who swept the 1600 and 3200 in 2006 and 2007, finished third. Shealy’s qualifying time in the 3200 was nearly 30 seconds faster than Kyzer’s, but it was no contest in the finale. Kyzer ran home in 9:54.91, leaving Shealy in the metaphorical dust, 11 seconds behind.
Kyzer became the third Pelion runner to win state titles in both the 1600 and 3200 in the same year. The first was Scott Wright in 1992, while Alex Kingsley accomplished the same feat in 2004.
Minard, meanwhile, turned in better championship times than Willard did during her rookie sweep in 2000. Minard, who finished second to Bishop England’s Jeanne Stroud at Lower State qualifying meet the week before, turned the table with a 0.15 second win at state, checking in at 5:29.81. She was the No. 1 seed in the 3200 and shaved nearly 27 seconds off her qualifying time to win in 12:15.87. Willard had winning times of 5:31.63 in the 1600 and 12:25.04 in the 3200 as seventh grader.
“Nevada is probably a little more talented as a runner at this point, but Diana was a winner,” said Bedenbaugh. “It’s impossible to say what is going to happen in the future with Nevada. Diana’s record speaks for itself.”
Willard, who eventually transferred and finished her career at Swansea, retired as the second most decorated distance runner in South Carolina annals with six consecutive cross country titles and 10 individual gold medals in track. Only former Pendelton distance great Joyce Peebles earned more titles – two in cross country, 14 in track.
Minard was fourth in cross country in the fall.