BELLAIRE - The Martins Ferry track teams came into the season with high expectations.
It's safe to say after Saturday's performance at Nelson Field for the annual Bellaire Early Bird, the Purple Riders' thoughts on the relatively young season haven't changed in the least.
It was a total Purple reign as Coach Rich Materkoski's girls more than doubled up their nearest competitor, St. Clairsville, 207-100. The Riders boys, meanwhile, accumulated 179 points during the course of the 18-event meet, which was 88 better than the Red Devils.
The Riders girls were not only deep, but they were dominant, winning 11 of the events.
Sophomore speedster Taylr Jenkins returned to the track after being one of several Riders thinclads who've battled flu-like conditions in the past 10 or so days. She didn't miss a beat, winning the 100- and 200-meter dashes, posting times of 13.1 and 27.1, respectively.
Sophomore hurdler Nikki Allen continued her strong season in both the high and low hurdles. She swept the timber titles, posting marks of 16.9 and 51.8.
Junior Sunshine Wrenn used a furious kick in the final 50 meters to edge St. Clairsville's Juliana Madzia for the 800 title. Wrenn crossed in 2:28.0.
Sophomore Sarah Applegarth got things started for the Purple Riders by winning the long jump with a mark of 14-feet, 11 1/4-inches. On the track, Applegarth turned in a solid 1:01.8 to win the 400.
A short time later, junior Courtney Crolley notched the pole vault crown, clearing 8-6 for her title.
Martins Ferry teamed its talent to win three relay events. The foursome of Crolley, Allen, Rikki Allen and Ashley Griffith posted a 1:10.9 to win the shuttle title. Applegarth, Wrenn, Sunnie Ruble and Jenkins posted a 4:36.0 to win the 1,600, and the 800 team of Applegarth, Nikki Allen, Kayce Neely and Jenkins ran 1:54 for the gold medal.
St. Clairsville was ignited to its runner-up finish by junior standout Alyssa Robinson who remained unblemished in the shot put with a heave of 41-3. She added the discus title with a twirl of 101-6.
On the track, the Red Devils claimed the 3,200 relay as the team of Shae Cenkus, Brooke Bosworth, Madzia and Amy Castle posted a 10:50. The St. C. foursome of Ayla Stewart, Audra Vrotsos, Taryne Soukup and Taryn Barr ran a 53.2 to win the lap relay.
Shadyside junior standout Tara Tollett continued her strong early season in the distance races. She swept the long distance races, running 5:16.3 and 11:19.2. She won the 1,600 by more than 30 seconds and the 3,200 by 91 seconds.
Barnesville's lone winner on the girls' side was junior Amy Wahl, who cleared 4-8 to win the high jump.
On the boys' side, the Purple Riders weren't quite as dominant, but won seven events. They got off to a strong start by winning three field events.
Junior strongman Sean McGee continued to be one of the area's top stories in the shot put. He posted a career-best mark of 55-11 to win the title by more than 15 feet.
Senior Richie Padyjasek began a highly productive day with a victory in the long jump, thanks to a mark of 18-10.5. He later won the high hurdles with a 15.1 clocking, edging Bridgeport's Cody Frey for the crown.
Senior Travis Jenkins soared over 12-6 to win the pole vault title.
The Riders also claimed three relay titles. The shuttle team of Padyjasek, Jack Fitch, Brian Styles and Jenkins ran a solid 64.6, whole the all-freshman quartet of Hunter Hill, Josiah Burress, Shawon Manns and Brandon Laughman ran a 1:42.7 for the victory in the 800.
The squad of Andrew Deaton, Bryan Brayer, Theo Zoumpoulidis and Lee Ackerman ran a 9:41.6 to win the 3,200.
St. Clairsville won a trio of individual events. Sophomore speedster Jaylon Brown posted an 11.1 to win the 10. Senior Alex Young won the 200 title with a 23.2 clocking.
In the field, sophomore Colby Lindsay claimed the discus title with a toss of 135-6.
The St. C. 400 team of Young, Brown, Jesse Smith and Jay Gossett posted a 46.6 to win the shortest relay.
Barnesville's boys won a quartet of individual events. Junior Brandon Stephens won the 1,600 in 4:50. Junior Jacob Anderson cleared 5-feet to win the high jump. Kyle McIntire ran a 2:13.3 to win the 800, and Katlin Grimes posted a 10:50.5 to win the 3,200.
The Shamrocks' 1,600 team of McIntire, Jeff Hart, Anderson and Stephens turned in a 3:40.3 to win the mile relay.
Shadyside also won a pair of boys' races. Senior Jake Dull turned in a solid 39.7 to claim the 300 intermediate hurdles, holding off Bridgeport's Frey and Ferry's Padyjasek in a loaded field.
Caruso, O'Connell Earn League-Qualifying Times
MORGANTOWN - Distance runners Stephanie Caruso and Jessica O'Connell finished competition for West Virginia at the Stanford Invitational with league-qualifying times late Friday in Palo Alto, Calif.
O'Connell competed in section two of the 1,500-meter run with success as she finished in second place with a Big East-qualifying time of 4:20.91, easily clearing the 4:38.44 standard. The time was 2 seconds past her career-best time of 4:18.31 from the 2010 outdoor season. Caroline King of Boston College finished a half-second ahead of O'Connell in 4:20.25 for the victory.
''This has been a long but successful road back from a nagging injury Jessica sustained last year,'' WVU coach Sean Cleary said. ''We are very excited to have her rounding back into the shape that saw her win the Big East 3,000 meter last winter."
A Wheeling Central graduate, Caruso met the Big East qualification time of 37:03.74 for the 10,000-meter run as she placed 30th in section two of the event in 35:05.60. It was her first career 10,000-meter run.
''Caruso ran the race of her life to run into the NCAA Championships,'' Cleary said. ''She was amazing.
''She had to go through the 5,000-meter mark in a lifetime best in order to be with the field. We don't know what performance marks are required to make the regional meet, but both O'Connell and Caruso easily made the cut last year.''