After four days of qualifying, it's finally time for championships to be passed out at the annual Cal Giffin OVAC Track and Field Championship.
The meet, which began on Monday, resumes this morning at Red Devil Stadium in St. Clairsville at 10 with field events and then two hours later the first running action of the meet begins with the 4x800 relay.
The field has been pared to 16 in all of the events with everyone scoring for his or her respective team. However, only the top eight overall will receive a medal. The top finisher in each class - regardless of overall place - will receive a medal as well.
TWO OF the runners to watch in today’s distance races at the Cal Giffin OVAC?Track and Field Championship are Shadyside’s Tara Tollett and St. John’s Fallon Doyle. Tollett is the defending champion in the 3200 meter run.
In the Class 1A/2A combined class, the battle on the boys' side appears to be between Steubenville Catholic Central and Valley, which is the defending Class 1A champion.
The girls' battle in the small-school division could be Steubenville Catholic, which has won five straight conference titles, and St. John Central, which has won 12 straight conference titles in Class A.
The Lady Irish boast a top seed today as sophomore ace Fallon Doyle led the qualifying in the 1600 meters.
The Irish boys also feature the number one ranked 3200 meter runner in senior Corey Leasure.
In Class 3A, Linsly's boys, who won the 2A title last season, and the River girls, who finished behind Steubenville Central in Class 2A, are the heavy favorites after strong rounds of qualifying.
The Lady Pilots are led by senior standout Cassidy McCullough. She posted the top qualifying mark overall in the 100 meter dash (12.62), the 200 meter dash (25.97) and the 300 low hurdles (46.74). She also led 3A qualifying in the long jump.
She's the defending OVAC champion in the lows.
The Martins Ferry girls are the defending Class 3A and overall champions, but have bumped up to 4A.
However, the Lady Purple Riders enjoyed strong qualifying rounds in a bevy of areas, which has made Rich Materkoski's team the favorite in its class as well as in the hunt for another overall banner.
The Lady Riders boas the top entrant in the long jump in junior Dionna Lee at 16-ft-7.
St. Clairsville's girls should score well today with their strength in the field and distance.
Senior dandy Alyssa Robinson leads the field in the shot put with a Class 4A record toss of 42-ft-1. The Penn State signee, who is the defending Division II state champion in the iron-ball event, is the two-time defending champion in the OVAC.
The 4A boys' battle could be a joust between as many as four schools, but based on qualifying it could be the tightest between defending champion St. Clairsville and the Purple Riders, who finished second to Magnolia in Class 3A in 2012.
The Red Devils feature the top seed in the 200 meter dash in junior blazer Jaylon Brown. He posted a 22.69 to lead the way. He also qualified in the 100 and 200 meter dashes.
Along with Brown, the Red Devils feature defending 800 meter champion Drake Walker, who qualified in the two-lap race as well as the 1600.
Martins Ferry will try to counter the Red Devils' open track events with strength in the field as well as impressive relays.
Senior Sean McGee is the defending champion in the shot put and he's also the top seed in today's event.
Senior Cody Schau is the top high jumper entered after soaring over 6-ft-2.
The Purple Riders' 4x1 (44.56) and 4x2 (1:32.35) are the top seeds as well. Those foursomes have been amongst the area's best all spring.
Other area top seeds in today's meet include Barnesville's Jacob Anderson, who ran a season-best time of 39.85, in the 300 intermediate hurdles.
All told, there are five returning champions back in the field today on the girls' side and four on the boys.
On top of the aforementioned winners, Buckeye Trail's Austin Carleton (long jump), Cambridge's Eric Fox (pole vault), Shadyside's Tara Tollett (3200M), Wheeling Park's Ashley Grove (400M), Morgantown's Natasha Trott (100M and 200M).
All of the qualifiers can be found on Page C5 of today's edition.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org