ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Finally, the field is set!
The next time area thinclads set foot on the Red Devil Stadium oval, there will be Ohio Valley Athletic Conference titles officially on the line.
The final entrants for the third annual all division final were decided on a warm and muggy afternoon in which 2A and 4A schools returned to finalize their preliminary meets.
Union Local’s Kurtis Ogilbee soars over the high jump bar during Thursday’s Class 4A competition. Ogilbee led the way with a 6-ft-4 clearance.
Action for the championship runs begins at 10 a.m. with field events and running events hear the sounding of the gun at noon. All of the team titles will be determined on Saturday as well as the individual champions.
Steubenville Big Red has seemingly asserted itself as the favorite for both the boys' and girls' titles thanks to another strong day of qualifying.
The Big Red boys produced the top qualifying mark in four different events.
Their lone individual top entrant was Leshawn Luke in the shot put (46-ft-7).
Big Red's cumulative speed was on display in the 4x100 relay when the team of Najee Murray, Quinton Smith, Robert Hayden and Tayari Lavender passed the baton to a meet-record time of 43.41.
Steubenville's 4x400 team of Murray, Lavender, Jaquan Lavender and Malik Richmond checked in with a 3:29.46 to lead all teams in both classes.
The Big Red shuttle team of Joey Nodianos, Oko Anyabwile, Michael Diaz and Shakur Miller ran a 63.48 to earn a spot as the top 4A team in Saturday's title meet.
St. Clairsville's strength in distance events was evidenced by senior Andy Thornburg and junior Drake Walker posting the top times in the 1600 and 800 meter runs, respectively.
Thornburg ran four laps in 4:43.42 and Walker ran half as many laps in 2:02.74.
Buckeye Local's Jordan Piergallini continued his brilliant season with the top mark in 200 meter dash. He raced to a 22.34, which was almost eight tenths of a second better than his nearest competitor.
Union Local's Kurtis Ogilbee achieved a personal best height of 6-ft-4 to lead the qualifying in the high jump.
The Steubenville, St. C. and Edison girls could all wage a serious battle throughout the course of the 18 events on Saturday.
The Lady Red Devils produced three top marks on Thursday. Senior Taryne Soukup marked the sand at 15-ft-3.
Junior Julianna Madzia was the top 800 meter runner in the field with a 2:30.11.
Junior Alyssa Robinson - the premier shot putter in the OVAC - was the top mark in the discus with a twirl of 102-ft-9.
Steubenville also logged three top qualifiers.
Big Red's Paige Phillips ran a 27.29 to lead the way in the 200 meter dash.
In the relays, Steubenville led the 4x100 (51.54) and 4x400 (4:12.30). The 400 team was comprised of Jasmine Ware, Shilynn Crawford, Cierra Macon and Toshchel Demus. The 1600 team consisted of Phillips, Queen Elder, Nadia Edwards and Aliah Stinson.
Oak Glen had two top entrants. The Lady Golden Bears' shuttle team of Megan Nally, Amy Webster, Tori Feicht and Paige Smearman posted a 69.37.
The Lady Golden Bears' Kelsey Chambers was the top 1600 meter run with a 5:32.62.
Edison's Ashley Borsch led the 300 hurdles qualifying with a time of 48.13.
The Linsly boys, who've been battling injuries and are without defending 100 and 200 meter champion Ricky Jordan this week, flexed their muscle and demonstrated they'll be a handful on Saturday.
Coach James Cowart's squad produced the top entrant in seven of the nine events contested and one of the events, the shuttles, had nary a qualifier because the Cadets were the only team in the field and they false-started.
Senior Mark Dodd had an impressive showing in the shot put with a heave of 50-ft-3. Senior Akil Blount turned in a height of 5-ft-10 to lead the high jump.
Senior speedster Chris Stephens paced the 200 meter qualifying with a time of 22.85. Stan Borrell was the top 1600 meter runner in 2A with a time of 4:47.62.
Junior Mike Hammond posted a 2:08.81 to lead the 800 qualifying.
The Cadets' 4x100 team of Dodd, Blount, Jamal Ebanks and Chinello Oparanozie ran a lap in 45.36.
The Linsly 4x400 team of Luke Miller, Borrell, Hammond and Stephens turned in a 3:38.85.
Shadyside's Jake Dull led the 300 hurdle qualifying with a time of 40.92.
The wide-open 2A girls battle could very well come down to which school can place the most girls near the top of the field.
River's Lady Pilots are in a strong position because of they feature arguably the most versatile athlete in the class in junior speedster Cassidy McCullough. She led the way in the 200 meter dash (26.28) and 300M low hurdles (46.79). Both of those marks are the premier times in the conference this week.
If the meet comes down to depth, Steubenville Central could have the leg up. The Lady Crusaders had the top marks in three of the events contested in 2A.
Rachel Rigaud, who was the top shot putter on Tuesday, added the top discus mark (92-9), while Michaela Gotta was the premier long jumper at 15-3.
The Lady Crusaders' 4x100 and 4x400 teams also had the top marks, running 51.78 and 4:21.36, respectively. The 400 team consisted of Gotta, Monica Rigaud, Taylor Bednar and Taylor Zapolnik. The 4x400 team was comprised of Gotta, Bednar, Zaponik and Elizabeth Miller.
Shadyside's Tara Tollett, who led the 3200 qualifying on Tuesday, paced the 1600 qualifying with a time of 5:23.25.
Cameron frosh Rena Reid led the 800 2A field with a time of 2:35.07.
Wheeling Central's strong shuttle team, which consists of Adeline Schneid, Anna Pockl, Bailey Clark and Emily Bucon ran a 68.30 to lead the 2A field.