McCullough, Robinson lead T-L girls track

It was another track and field season to remember.

Whether it was All-Ohioans, OVAC champions or state qualifiers, the immediate area had a plethora of both this season, especially on the girls’ side.

Today, The Times Leader Sports Staff – with the help of area track coaches – announces its annual all-Times Leader Girls Track squad.

For the second straight season, a pair of state champions share the captaincy of the team. Ironically, it’s the same two young ladies that led the way in 2012.

River’s Cassidy McCullough and St. Clairsville’s Alyssa Robinson both repeated in their respective events earlier this month in Columbus.

The coach of the year is also a repeat winner. Martins Ferry’s Rich Materkoski guided his deep and talented Lady Riders to another impressive season.

Here’s a capsule look at the athletes:

CASSIDY McCULLOUGH, River – The Lady Pilots’ leader came into the season with high expectations and never once disappointed.

The West Virginia Wesleyan-bound low hurdler finished the campaign unblemished in the lows, winning her second consecutive Division III state championship. She did so in a personal best time of 43.27. McCullough won consecutive OVAC, district and regional titles along the way. She was also the district and regional champion in the 200 meter dash. She was district champion, regional runnerup and sixth in the state in the 100 meter dash.

For the first time in her career, McCullough also dabbled in long jump and was consistently over the 16-foot barrier.

“Cassidy is relentless in everything she does,” said Lady Pilots’ head coach Bob Cicogna. “Every day she wants you give her something to make her a better athlete and, as a coach, you learn to appreciate that very quickly. Wesleyan is getting a great athlete and an even better person.”

ALYSSA ROBINSON, St. Clairsville – This Lady Red Devils’ senior took on any and all challengers during this past season. The results were unmatched as evidenced by her undefeated season and state shot put championship.

Robinson was the area’s premier thrower all season and put the finishing touches on one of the finest prep throwing careers the area’s ever seen with a put of 46-ft-1 1/2 to win the Division II state title. She was the OVAC champion, district and regional champion all after earning all-American honors during the indoor season.

The Penn State signee was also the shot put champion in the Midwest Meet of Champions held earlier this month.

Robinson also qualified for the state meet in the discus for the first time in her career.

“Athletes like Alyssa don’t come along very often,” said St. C. head coach Ben Frye. “She has a rare combination of natural talent, an outstanding work ethic and competitiveness. She was as dominant in her event as anyone in the area, if not the state of Ohio. I’m so happy for all of Alyssa’s individual accomplishments and look forward to seeing more of the same at Penn State.”

TARA TOLLETT, Shadyside – This senior proved once again to be one of the area’s premier distance runners, excelling in the 3200.

The Ohio University-bound Tollett finished fifth in the Division III state meet, turning in an 11:14.85 for her second consecutive state medal. She was the district champion and finished second in the regional meet.

“Tara had a very strong season for us once again,” said Lady Tigers’ head coach Jenna Coyne. “She came into the season with high goals and being able to place again at the state meet was certainly on the list, so it was nice to see her achieve that. We believe that Tara will continue to improve and drop time as her running career moves to the next level.”

AMY CASTLE, St. Clairsville – This UNC-Asheville-bound distance runner put the finishing touches on an impressive prep running career with an all-Ohio finish.

Castle, who had qualified for the state meet in both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs, opted to focus on just the eight-lap race and it paid dividends. She earned her first state track medal, placing seventh in the state with a time of 11:23.43.

Castle was the district runnerup in the 3200 and bronze medalist at 1600 meters. At the regional, she placed fourth in the 3200 and third in the 1600. She was also third in both races at the OVAC.

“Amy has been a tremendous competitor during her high school career,” Frye said. “She has the grit and mental toughness that’s needed to be a great runner. We’re obviously sad to see Amy graduate, but we know she has a bright future ahead of her at the next level.”

JULIANA MADZIA, St. Clairsville – This Lady Red Devils’ senior had a very impressive prep running career and capped it in grand style earlier this month.

Madzia, who isn’t going to run at the collegiate level, finished fifth in the Division II 3200 meter run, posting an 11:20.52 in the process. She claimed gold in both distance races at the district level. She opted to drop the 1600 in the regional and that paid off as she captured the 3200 meter crown.

Madzia was the OVAC champion in the 3200 meters and finished fourth in the 1600.

“Juliana is a great example of hard work paying off,” Frye said. “She has put in countless hours of work and as a result, she’s been one of the best distance runners in the state. I’m proud of Juliana and her countless accomplishments that she’s had both on and off the track.”

BRI MASSEY, Bridgeport – This sophomore had another impressive season for Coach Donnie Cash’s Lady Bulldogs.

As she did as a frosh, Massey kicked it into high gear in the regional and earned another trip to the Division III state meet. She did so in the 200 meter dash after finishing second in the regional.

During the course of the season, Massey picked up the long jump and was consistently over the 16-foot barrier and finished fourth in the OVAC. She was a regional qualifier and an OVAC placer in the event. She also anchored strong Bridgeport relay squads.

“Bri had a pretty good sophomore season,” Cash said. “She has a great work ethic and is one of the leaders for us. She ran her best time in the regional and that allowed her to accomplish her goal of getting back to the state. Hopefully, she can improve and do better next year.”

KYLIE RUSSELL, Union Local – This Lady Jets’ sophomore burst onto the scene in a big way in area pole vaulting.

Russell earned her first trip to the Division II state track and field meet by winning the district title and finishing second in the regional meet. She tied for fourth in the OVAC Championship meet.

“Kylie has an outstanding work ethic,” said first-year Lady Jets’ head coach Sam Nardo. “She would always put in the extra time that was needed and the results spoke for themselves as she continued to improve as the season went along. Hopefully, she’s able to build on the experience of being at the state this year for next season.”

TALYR JENKINS, Martins Ferry – This junior speedster had a highly impressive season for the Lady Riders.

Jenkins was the top sprint entrant for Ferry. She was a regional finalist in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes. She narrowly missed a trip to the Division III state meet in the 100. She did run the anchor leg on the Ferry 4×2, which placed seventh in the state meet.

Jenkins was the district champion in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes.

“This was the year that we were hoping Taylr would be able to have,” said Ferry head coach Rich Materkoski. “We allowed her some rest during the season and it paid dividends for her in races in the postseason. She ran very well and she’s already in the weightroom getting stronger and faster for her final season.”

SUNSHINE WRENN, Martins Ferry – This Lady Riders’ senior definitely earned the distinction of being called Ms. Versatility.

There wasn’t many events this talented runner couldn’t contribute for the Lady Riders. Individually, she was a standout at 800 meters. She was the district runnerup and regional entrant in the two-lap race.

She also ran on all of the Lady Riders’ talented sprint relays, including their 4×2, which placed seventh in the Division III state meet.

“Sunshine is probably the most versatile athlete I’ve coached in my 14 years,” Materkoski said. “We will really miss her from the standpoint of being able to run her in the middle distance races or any relay. I am really happy that Sunshine was able to end her career on a high note, because she deserved it.”

SARAH APPLEGARTH, Martins Ferry – This Lady Riders’ junior showed signs of her capabilities toward the end of the season and now Materkoski and company are hoping to take it even further next season.

Applegarth is another very versatile competitor for Ferry. She excelled at the 400 meters and contributed to all of their relay teams. She was a regional entrant in the 400 after finishing second in the district. She was also an OVAC placer in the event.

Applegarth ran in her first state meet and turned in a key leg for the Lady Riders’ all-Ohio 4×2 team.

“Sarah is one of those gifted athletes that is just waiting to tap into that talent,” Materkoski said. “She learned what she was capable of during the last two races of the season when she split in the 25s in both the regional and state meets. Once Sarah realizes what she’s capable of, the sky is the limit for her.”

COURTNEY CROLLEY, Martins Ferry – This Lady Riders’ senior was the area’s premier pole vaulter, consistently bringing home title after title during the season.

Crolley was the district champion and finished fifth at the regional meet, narrowly missing a trip to the state meet. She was the OVAC runnerup in the event. She was consistently over the 10-foot plateau.

“Courtney is just scratching the surface of her vaulting protential,” Materkoski said. “What she did in just two years of vaulting was tremendous. I think once she starts vaulting in college, she will realize how good she can be at the event.”

TYESHA ALLEN, Martins Ferry – This freshman made an instant impact for the Lady Riders as their premier hurdler.

Allen was a regional qualifier in both the high and low hurdles. She finished fifth in the regional in the highs, narrowly missing a trip to the state. She was an OVAC placer in both events.

“Tyesha had a super year for a freshman,” Materkoski said. “Her biggest asset is that she runs extremely hard every time she steps to the (starting) line, which makes for a good hurdler. She makes up a nice duo for us in the hurdles, and I’m looking forward to having her around for three more seasons.”

FALLON DOYLE, St. John Central – This sophomore standout put forth another stellar campaign despite battling a few injuries early in the season.

Doyle helped fuel the Lady Irish to the OVAC Class 1A/2A title with victories in the 1600 and 800 meter runs. She then won both of those races at the district meet, but narrowly missed a trip to the state meet in both races.

“Fallon had a super OVAC and district meet,” said Lady Irish head coach Paul Xenakis. “She missed the beginning of the season due to injury, but really battled back for a solid season.”

JESSICA ALVEY, St. John Central – This freshman phenom made quite an impact in her first varsity season.

Alvey was a standout in the long jump and 400 meters. She consistently ran under 60 seconds in the lap dash and was past the 16-foot mark. Alvey was the district champion and was a regional finalist in the 400. She also won the district gold and got edged out for the fourth state spot on a competitor’s final jump.

“Jessica had a tremendous season especially adapting to the pressure of competing against upperclassmen,” Xenakis said. “I think her just missing the state meet in both the long jump and 400 will serve as motivation for her because that’s the type of character she has.”

ABBY CALDWELL, River – This Lady Pilots’ frosh made quite an impact for Cicogna’s OVAC 3A championship squad.

Caldwell was third in the district in the 200 meter dash and finished fifth in the regional, narrowly missing a berth in the state meet. She also shined in the 100 meter dash throughout the season for the Lady Pilots. She also scored in both events in the OVAC.

“Abby came on strong for us in the month of May,” Cicogna said. “She was one of the main reasons we were able to achieve the team goals we set in the beginning of the season. I’m glad she has three more seasons to compete for us.”

MYLEAH GREEN, Bellaire – This senior thrower was a consistent high scorer for the Lady Big Reds in both the shot put and discus.

Green was a four-year mainstay for the Lady Big Reds. She reached the regional competition this season in Division III in both the discus and shot put. She was an OVAC scorer in both events and was the top Class 3A finisher in the shot put.

“Myleah is the type of kid that I knew we could always count on to compete each and every meet,” said Bellaire head coach Shawn Valloric. “She will be missed not only with her performances but her leadership as well.”

RICH MATERKOSKI, Martins Ferry – This Lady Riders’ mentor once again guided his squad to a mighty impressive season.

Materkoski’s squad captured the OVAC Class 4A title after bumping up from Class 3A, which it won last season. The Lady Riders also won the Buckeye 8 title and the Division III Eastern District crown.

“The girls had another great season,” Materkoski said. “The kids worked hard all season, we were fortunate and stayed pretty healthy and we rose to the occassion when we needed to.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my coaching staff because any of these kinds of awards are a direct reflection to the entire staff. They work extremely hard and deserve to be commended.”

Staskey can be reached via email at