Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

MICKEY FURFARI

May 7, 2014

Remembering the great Santucci

MORGANTOWN — The amazing Clara Santucci, a three-time All-American distance runner under her maiden name of Grandt, has added the tallest of her numerous feathers to her growing cap.

A 2009 graduate of West Virginia University, she won the Pittsburgh Marathon last Sunday with a time of 2 hours, 32 minutes, and 25 seconds. It was slightly more than 2 minutes later that the runner-up hit the finish line.

In all, Clara earned a total payoff of $15,000 for capturing her first major marathon championship.

This was Santucci’s fifth marathon effort of her brilliant young career. The 27-year-old star placed 16th in her first effort: the 2011 Boston Marathon.

Making this most recent triumph even more impressive is the fact that Santucci becomes the first American, Pennsylvanian, and Olympic qualifying woman to win the Pittsburgh Marathon.

Clara and her husband Jason live in Dilliner, Pa. He and her parents were present last Sunday to cheer her on to victory.

Santucci, who’s mind already is focused on the 2016 Olympic Games, continues to work as an aquatic therapist at the Health Works in Morgantown.

•••

The 48th annual Victory Awards Dinner last Sunday in Charleston was one of the finest in recent years.

Doug Huff, for more than 35 years secretary-treasurer of the sponsoring W.Va. Sports Writers Association, thought things went very well. The $20-per-plate dinner drew nearly 500 people from throughout the state.

An estimated 200 award winners were honored. Those included high school All-State performers in every sport, athletes of the year, individual coaches of the year, etc.

Two also were inducted into the state sports writers’ Hall of Fame.

Marshall University’s retired football coach Bob Pruett was one. The other was Wheeling’s Fern Lee “Peachy” Kellmeyer, a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Except for former athletic director Ed Pastilong, WVU was conspicuous by its absence. But Mike Carey, its great women’s basketball coach, was a close runner-up for the West Virginia College Coach of the Year Award.

Jim Crutchfield of West Liberty University was honored as the winner for a record-tying fourth consecutive year. He’s the winningest basketball coach, percentage-wise, in college basketball history at any level.

•••

It was pleasing to see Bill Legg at the Victory Awards Dinner.

While he wasn’t among those honored, the former Mountaineer football center was present as part of the Marshall delegation.

Legg is a member of the Thundering Herd’s head gridmaster Doc Holliday’s staff. Holliday is a former WVU player and assistant coach.

Legg was one of Hall of Famer Don Nehlen’s first recruits and a dandy! WVU posted records of 9-3, 9-3, 9-3, 8-4, and appeared in four different postseason bowl games.

I also enjoyed seeing Chuck Landon, a widely-known state sports columnist. I first met Chuck when he was part of the sports staff at the Charleston Daily Mail. But now he’s a veteran columnist for the Huntington Herald Dispatch.

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MICKEY FURFARI