The Times West Virginian

Prep Sports

April 11, 2014

Larry Conaway remembered at invitational

FAIRMONT — Current North Marion runners might not have known Larry Conaway personally, but they are certainly still feeling the impact that the longtime track coach had on the program nearly five years after his passing.

That includes drills and training principles. But more than that, the current Husky coaches try to help their runners develop the toughness and dedication that Conaway was best known for.

“A lot has changed since he’s been around, but the stuff that he instilled is still with us,” said North Marion girls’ track coach Keri Bland.

Today North Marion, East Fairmont and Fairmont Senior will remember the coach when they participate in the third annual Larry Conaway Invitational at Lewis County High School.

“I think it was a great honor that (Lewis County coach) Eddy Vincent thought of him that much to name the meet in his honor,” said North Marion girls’ track coach Jeff Crane. “(Conaway) was around forever. He deserves something like this. I’m just glad we can be a part of it.”

Everyone who was asked about Conaway remembered him as a tough, demanding coach who was able to bring out the best in his athletes.

“Larry was an old-school guy,” said Crane. “He believed in running you and running you hard. He believed if you worked hard, eventually it would pay off.”

After a pause he added, “And it did.”

Crane took over as North Marion’s first-ever track coach when the school opened in 1979. Over decades as a coach, he helped numerous athletes with conference and state titles. For his achievements, he was also named NCAC Coach of the Year.

Bland remembers Conaway fondly. He went on to be a track official for many years after his coaching career ended. The gun that he used to start races has since been passed on to the team, and Bland said she still thinks of him when it is used.

She also agreed with Crane’s assessment of Conaway’s coaching style.

“He didn’t put up with any excuses,” she said. “He liked to push you hard because he knew you could give more. He was one of those who pushed you to 110 percent, because you always have more than 100 percent.”

Ken Hibbs, the track coach at East Fairmont, said Conaway was not only dedicated to his athletes, but also to his school.

“Sometimes today coaches move around from place to place. It’s kind of unusual for someone to be dedicated to one sport for decades.

“He was involved with track longer than most anyone I know.”

Email Mike DeFabo at mdefabo@timeswv.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.

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