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Maggie Drazba set new bar at St. Marys, headed to MOV hall

Photo courtesy by West Virginia University West Virginia’s Maggie Drazba competes in a college track meet. Drazba, a St. Marys High graduate, is set to be inducted into the Mid-Ohio Valley Valley Sports Hall of Fame.

PARKERSBURG — Two names quickly stand out in any discussion of past greats in the storied history of St. Marys High School’s track and field program.

If Steve Taylor set the bar for all St. Marys boys’ cross country and track and field athletes after him, then Maggie Drazba undoubtedly did the same on the girls’ side.

Their runs of success going unmatched since each respectively graduated and moved on to the NCAA Division I college level proved their legacies survived on a grander scale.

Taylor’s combined achievements later earned him a spot in the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame’s 1999 class. Drazba’s career did the same recently. The former Blue Devil and West Virginia University Mountaineer received the call informing her she’d be among the 10 members of the 2020 class of inductees.

“I am definitely surprised and honored. Even just to be nominated, then considered, and then to actually make it is really special,” said Drazba, who still runs road races to this day.

The path to her achievement started just as unexpectedly. Gently pushed by her cousin’s passion for the sport, Drazba joined a successful Pleasants County middle school team. From there, she arrived at St. Marys High School where the fun “never stopped” until the day of her graduation.

State records falling, Gatorade naming her West Virginia’s cross-country honoree in two seasons in 2011 and 2012, her being honored by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association as the best female track athlete in 2013, and 15 state champions over two sports left her record book full as a Blue Devil. She also became one of the first two Mountain State runners to qualify for the Footlocker National championship, where she placed 22nd out of 40 runners.

She continued her career at West Virginia University and was a key contributor for the Mountaineers.

Drazba easily identified a few of her favorite moments from her running career. She warmly remembered smashing her own 1600-meter record during the 2012 Class A state meet. Her time of 4:51 stacked her up against some of the West Virginia greats and other elite runners. It also was almost 18 seconds faster than her 2011 time.

Next was the year her brother Charlie and her both captured the 2011 Little Kanawha Conference cross country championships. “It was something I really enjoyed,” said Drazba.

The secret to her success she said came in her accomplishments and never settling for less than her best. “There were always more goals I was setting and more things I wanted to achieve later in high school. It kept me motivated that I always had something to look toward.”

Drazba’s influence even reached to some of the standout runners of today. Her work with talented high school runners and state champions in Ripley’s Tori Starcher and Parkersburg High’s Madison Trippett as a training advisor of Morgantown’s West Virginia Flyers running club helped shape their respective careers.

“Maggie’s been an excellent role model for Madison,” said Trippett’s father Kevin.

Where the Blue Devil helped the Mountain State gain more recognition on the national scene, Drazba shared she was proud of how Starcher, Trippett, Morgantown’s Lea Hatcher and others have pushed the state further into the spotlight.

With Drazba’s induction on Aug. 22 inside Vienna’s Grand Pointe Conference Center, she becomes the Blue Devils’ 14th member of the hall and the first inductee since Tom Hill in 2016. She also becomes just the seventh predominantly track-oriented Blue Devil in the exclusive club.

While currently on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as a clinical dietitian at the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in Richmond, Va., Drazba plans to attend the enshrinement ceremony.

“Hopefully they can keep the date and I can come home and reminisce about my high school and college days,” she said.

“I didn’t really have any expectations, it was just something I liked to do,” said Drazba on running and her career. “It has been quite the journey.”

She possesses zero regrets about her overall journey through the racing world.

“I don’t really think back on things I would do differently. The experiences I had all set me up to be in a good place. Some races didn’t go as planned but I did the best I could and don’t really look back on any of it with regrets,” she said.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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