TSR's Profiles of Greatness - Suzie Comer

By: Mike Mcmillion


Susie Comer Biography

Pennsboro High – (Class of 1979) / Ritchie County, WV

 

Susie Comer, a 5-foot-1, 95-pound dynamo, was a pioneer for girl’s track at Pennsboro High School in the 1970's. She began running as a way to get in shape for basketball, but the basketball coach was impressed with her speed and stamina, and suggested she run track.

Since Pennsboro had no track team, she was literally a one-woman team for the Cardinals.

She modestly credits her brother Rick, who at the time was a basketball and track coach at Nitro Junior High School, with laying out a schedule mixed with long, slow jogs and more demanding sprint work.

Susie would make before and after school runs, while sister Karen would ride the school bus carrying Susie’s clothes and books. She would keep a running log starting on January 1st, while putting in more than eight hundred miles in less than four months. She would often be seen running the streets of Ritchie County with her Dalmatian, Bandit.

Susie would travel to Parkersburg, run in track meets held by the Big Reds, and sometimes travel with them to track meets.

Susie’s toughest competitor was Wendy Anderson of Parkersburg High School, who reigned supreme in the girl’s scholastic mile, while Comer was just a sophomore.  At the 1977 state meet, which was only one division, Anderson won the 1 mile run in 5:17.3, while Comer was second in 5:28.3.

Susie would reverse the roles during a practice meet at the beginning of their junior seasons and she never looked back.

Her determination and ability to self-coach would pay off. Susie went on to set state records in the 1 mile and 2 mile runs. She was the first track athlete in state’s history to hold four West Virginia high school records.

Susie logged an undefeated junior season, highlighted by state meet records of 5:09.2 in the mile and 11:22.4 in the two-mile, which was a new event in 1978 for scholastic girls. The following spring, competing in the AA-A division of the state meet, she again set records in these runs, posting times of 5:16.7 in the mile run and 11:46.4 in the two mile run. And since her records in 1978 still stood, she was then holder of four records at the same time.

Although a state meet champion in the high school mile and two-mile and the top West Virginia woman finisher in the 1978 Charleston Distance Run, she treasured two awards in her trophy room. They are a trophy for Athlete of the Year in 1976-77 at Pennsboro High School and the 1978 Everett Ankron Award given by her school in recognition of academic and athletic achievement. She maintained a 3.4 grade average as one of forty-two seniors in Pennsboro’s class of 1979.

During the late 70’s, she was considered West Virginia’s greatest female track athlete. In fact, Rat Thom who was then a veteran track official for fifty years, called Susie the greatest distance runner to participate in West Virginia track in all his years.

She was voted the number two outstanding amateur athlete in West Virginia two years in a row, and on both occasions Garnett Edwards was number one. The next year, Susie was a freshman at WVU, while Edwards was a senior.

Her performance landed her attention from West Virginia University, and she attended school there on a scholarship. Her success continued there as she earned 12 letters and set individual school records.

As a freshman at WVU, she was named the Outstanding Athlete of the 1979-80 Women’s Cross Country and Indoor Track teams.

Susie holds the Mountaineer track record for 3,000 meters with a time of 9:47.34 (1981).

on Saturday June 11th, 2011, Comer was enshrined in a banquet into the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Fame Induction Class at the Grand Pointe Conference and Reception Center in Vienna, WV.

A final thought, though Susie Comer never achieved a sub-5:00, she was definitely a pioneer in the sport. She paved the way for generations to come. It wouldn’t be until twenty-seven years, eleven months later before the first sub-5:00 1600m would be achieved. On May 13th, 2006, at the Erickson All-Sports Invitational, Kaylyn Christopher of Preston High broke the state record by running 4:58.18. Since this time, three other girls have gone on to run under sub-5:00.  The current girl's state record is 4:42.19 by Amelia Paladino of University High, set on March 16th, 2014 at the New Balance Nationals Indoor at the Armory Track & Field Center in New York, NY.

When observing RunWV’s 1600 Meters All-Class All-Time Top Ten List, one would notice that after thirty-eight years a 5:07 still puts you in a pretty elite class.

Note: RunWV converted Comers 1 mile and 2 mile to 1600m and 3200m times.

 

Personal:

  • Daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Comer
  • Has three siblings: brother Rick and sisters Linda and Karen
  • Married to Chris Mullins

 

Susie Comer biography compiled by Mike McMillion

 

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