While Magnolia, Weir and Oak Glen have all had their respective turns at being the top dog in the West Virginia Class AA Region One girls' track and field scene, it was Tyler Consolidated that took control a season ago and figures to be tough once again.
Coach J.C. Kimble directed his Silver Knights to a runner-up finish in last year's state championship meet in Charleston. However, this will be Tyler's final chance at the Class AA crown with the Knights dropping to Class A for the 2012-13 school year.
While three-quarters of Tyler Consolidated's 400 state championship unit has graduated, junior high jumper Makayla Clegg returns after leaping to a state title as a sophomore in her specialty.
There is a core group senior Sami Jones (shuttles), juniors Clegg (high jump, long jump, shuttles), Haylea LeMasters (shuttles, 300 hurldes, pole vault) and Allison Wable (1,600 relay, shuttles) and sophomores Caroline Bantug (1,600 relay), Hillary Casteel (long jump, 100, 200) and Carly Fletcher (400).
Others who will help include seniors Carissa Beaver, Alaina McCoy, Sydney Reed and Keri Suter; juniors Cortney Daugherty, Sierra Holmes, Logann Long, Alyson Placer, Lauren Seckman, Randy Taylor and Shay Yonsley; sophomores Aubrey Henderson, Latasha McCune, Kelly Rice, Megan Schlabowski and Destiny Wayne; and freshmen Karstyn Cline, Hannah Dennis, Marisa Gogan, Kaylee Hartsfield, Brooke Keys, Bridget Matthews, Haley Smith, Stephanie Wright and Sydney Yoho.
"Expectations are the same as last year, with the regional being the first major goal," Kimble said. "I truly believe that we have the toughest region in the state, and if we can do well there we will also do well at the state meet again.
"We know that Oak Glen has a very good team and they will give us a run for our money, but I think the fact that we have unfinished business will really motivate the girls. We were so close last year, but came up just short."
Tyler Consolidated will welcome a new boys' coach into the fold in Eric McKeever, who is a former three sport standout from his own high school days.
McKeever inherits a team loaded with juniors and sophomores, but also a roster that has four returning athletes that placed at last year's state meet.
Leading the way will be seniors Slade Dillon (shot put, discus), Jeremy Smith (800 relay, 300 hurdles, 110 hurdles, shuttles) and Johan Aasland (400, shuttles, 300 hurdles, long jump). Smith was a member of the Silver Knights' shuttle hurdle quartet, which finished third a season ago in Charleston.
Juniors will include Alex Doak (100, 200, 400 relay, 800 relay), Hunter LeMasters (high jump, pole vault, 300 hurdles, shuttles), Drew Casey (shot put, discus), Jay Early (shot put, discus), Brandon Frey (800 relay, 1,600 relay, high jump, shuttles), Christian Ice (400 relay, 800 relay, 100, 200), Mario Mantecon (shot, discus, 400, 800), Dylan Romaine (400, 800, 300 hurdles, shuttles). Doak was fourth in both the 100 and 200 at last year's state meet while Frey was on the shuttle hurdle squad.
Sophomores are Marshall Tallman (400, 800 relay, pole vault), Ryley Warner (800, 800 relay, shot put, discus), Ryan Dalrymple (1,600, 3,200), Josh Ruble (4100 relay, 800 relay, pole vault), Pavel Grigoiev (long jump, high jump, 800), Dylan Reynolds (1,600, 3,200).
The lone freshman is Zach Zills (shot put, discus).
"We are a youthful team, mainly consisting of juniors and sophomores," McKeever said. "There are a few returning place winners from Charleston and I feel like we have added a few good athletes also.
"I am very excited about the upcoming season and anxious to get started. I feel that if we can stay healthy, and get a little bit of luck, we could be a team that could contend for a state title by the end of the season."
Oak Glen's girls finished just one spot behind Tyler Consolidated in Charleston to take the team bronze and Coach Diane Wells welcomes back 14 state qualifiers from that unit.
Senior Amy Webster and Page Smearman lead the way, both having brought back gold from Charleston a year ago. Webster was a member of the Golden Bears' winning 800 relay and 1600 relay units while Smearman joined her on the shorter relay.
The other two seniors will be Amanda Clark (shot put, discus) and Jennifer Ferguson (distance).
However, the most decorated athlete on the squad is junior standout Alex Burch, who captured the AA 400 title and was also on both the 800 and 1,600 relay teams. She will again be a force in sprints and relays.
Megan Collins is another returning member of both state championship relay quartets. Other juniors are Kaleena Crane (field events), Jennifer Lybert (sprints, long jump), Natali Ramsey (distance), Kayla Swiger (sprints, high jump, long jump) and Abby Tice (middle-distance).
Kelsey Chambers leads the sophomore class, having been a member of the 1,600 unit last year, along with Casey Baird (distance), Maddie Blackwell (field), Tori Feicht (hurdles, sprints), Megan Nally (hurdles, sprints) and Rachelle Woofter (field).
The freshman class includes Emmy Delekta (discus), Brianna Logston (shot put), Christian Mangano (middle distance), Felicity Nolder (distance), Marissa Nolder (hurdles, sprints), Devon Temple (sprints) and Morgan Watson (sprints).
"We return 14 state qualifiers from a team that finished third last year, so I don't believe that there is any reason that we should not be fighting for a state championship again this season," Wells said.
While do-it-all Chance Rowland has graduated, Oak Glen boys' coach Rance Everly remains excited about his Golden Bears. Key returnees include Ethan Delekta, who was second in the discus in Charleston, Josh Weltner (400, long jump, relays) and a strong distance group.
The distance runners are Ryan DeBee, Rhett Koper, Skylar Lamp, Ethan Malcomb, Myka McGaffic, Eric Oliver, Brandon Rhodes, Brock Smith and Cody Tropek.
Sprinters include Chris Bailey, David Campbell, Chase Hartley, Jeff Hissam, Donnie Longstreth, Micah Swiger and Weltner. The hurdling crew are Cullen Bennett, Zeth Clark, Clayton Flowers and Kyle Mack.
Throwers are Delekta, David Polgar, Chance Staley and Zack Staley.
Senior members of the unit are Frank Campbell, Clark, Delekta, Hissam, Longstreth and Polgar.
"I am very excited about the upcoming season," Everly said. "We have a quality group of guys back this year, having only lost three kids to graduation. We also have some great additions as well.
"All-state football player Jeff Hissam is going to run and play baseball this year, with baseball being his priority, but we are happy to have him as much as possible.
"There is balance and depth on the roster and plenty of options to choose from."
Magnolia coach Matt Quinett has watched his team ascend to the top of the podium in Charleston with his boys' team capturing the Class AA state championship a season ago.
Stephen Rogalski, who was a major force at the state meet as a sophomore, returns for his junior campaign and should once again be amongst the valley's best.
Rogalski was second in both the 200 and 400-meter runs while helping the Blue Eagles to state titles in both the 1,600 and 3,200-meter relays. Senior Nick Blatt is also back and was a member of Magnolia's longer baton-passing winner.
Seniors include Alec Hinerman, Bill Feeney, who was sixth in the 1,600 in Charleston, Caleb Seckman and Rogar O'Neil; juniors include Eric Piekarski, Mikal Raber, Alex Pancake, Bill Owens, James Haught and Kenny Headly.
Sophomore members will be Tyler Calvert, Drew Estep, Caleb McCure, Kevin Taylor, Kage Rohde, Logan Massey, Derek Ratledge, Hunter Melott, Jamie Melott, Charlie Wade, Jacob Rable, Tyler Baccer and Phillip Hallan while the freshmen include Tomas Emch, Brandon Fayroll, Deavid Mcelvein, Oscar Celedon, Jacob Pancake, Tim Weekley, Tyler Akers and Zac Lockhart.
Steve Ross returns to lead the Magnolia girls, who are a young and inexperienced group with just five returnees.
The only two seniors on the roster are Jjennifer Emch in middle distance and Tiphany Trail running sprints. Junior competitors include Sarah Goddard (sprints, middle-distance), Christa Hershberger (middle-distance), Julianne McIlvain (distance), Alyssia Murdock (sprints), Marie Strandholmen (sprints) and Haley White (shot put, discus).
There are plenty of sophomores and freshmen with Emily Clegg (sprints, hurdles, long jump), Lauren Cline (middle-distance), Julia Koring (middle-distance), Shelby Sands (middle-distance), Renee Smith (sprints), Steffi Tille (sprints), Tara Wright (sprints, hurdles, discus), Kacie Jo Brown (shot put, discus), Hannah Eller (sprints, long jump), Katie Ensinger (distance), Krista Henderson (sprints), Traysa Robinson (shot put, discus), Kiera Stand ford (sprints, hurdles) and Brianna Young (shot put, discus).
"I am really excited to be back in coaching again," Ross mentioned. "I think we have a real nice group here that is dedicated to getting better. But we also only have five girls back from last season so we will be young and inexperienced.
"With continued hard work, we will be able to make this a competitive season."
Veteran Weir girls' coach Jeff Lewis and first-year boys' mentor Chris Hill both agree that rebuilding will be the word of the year for their respective teams.
Gone from the girls' squad, that finished fifth at the state meet in 2011, are Tricia Marker, who finished third in the 1,600 and fourth in the 800 in Charleston, Sarah Cline and Monica Pennanchio.
But there are six returning state qualifiers in Chantelle Harper (sprints), Gracen Hayes (hurdles), Kayla Lemley-Radford (hurdles), Kristen Castration, who was sixth in the 1,600, Alexis Virtue (distance) and Raven Young (sprints).
The remaining distance competitors will include Rachel Marker, Allyson Martin, Ella Jennings, Lauren Hoffman, Morgan Goff and Sierra Schoolcraft while sprints will be Shelva Burns, Michaela Anderson and Cheyenne Johnson.
Johnson will also spend time as a hurdler along with Alexandria Lengyel and Marlee Harris.
A large group of shot putters and discus throwers includes Morgan Abbott, Michayla Dobosz, Madison Dalrymple, Michaela Amendola, Ella Jennings, Courtney Schexnayder, Zoe Cock, Janet Vos and Abby Wells.
"It is going to be a rebuilding year with a relatively young team," Lewis said. "But despite that, I still have some high expectations for this squad.
"We are well balanced and will only improve with our good work ethic. There is a lot of potential her for the girls and I think we could develop into a good team."
Hill may have a lot of underclassmen on the boys' roster, but there is plenty to work with.
Seniors are Bill Yoho (distance), Lucas Dankovchik (distance), Max Hudson (shot put, discus), Antoine Gerard (distance) and Ethan Barnes (shot put, discus).
Juniors will be Darren Baldwin (shot put, discus), James Owens (shot put, discus), Nathan Masters (sprints), Brian Miller (distance) and Ben Suter (shot put, discus).
The sophomores will be Tyler Warrick (shot put, discus), Noah Woods (distance), Jaquan Ware (sprints), Cole Slates (sprints), Shyler Gaunt (sprints), Ryan Dragonir (distance), Clarence Bennett (sprint) and Logan Melvin.
Freshmen are JoJo Rice (sprints), Phil Digaralamo (shot put, discus), Ben Kopa (distance), Kristian Fuchs (distance), Tyler Riggle (distance), Alec Collett (sprints), Bryan Phillips (sprints), Jjonathan Fedoush (distance) and Jordan Lamp (distance).
"There is a nice blend of talent and experience, but at the same time there is plenty of youth," Hill said. "Expectations are still high and I think we can be very competitive."