ST. CLAIRSVILLE - When the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference went to the championship-style track and field meet three years ago, it had a mental picture of what it could look like.
It was pretty close to ideal Saturday at Red Devil Stadium as the overall and five class champions were crowned.
Martins Ferry had been the premier girls' team all season. However, each week coach Rich Materkoski professed to his club that bigger goals were still ahead. The message got across loud and clear and neither Morgantown - nor the prom - could slow the Riders.
PHOTO BY MIKE PALMER
Wheeling Central’s Anna Pockl, right, and Martins Ferry’s Rikki Allen are neck-and-neck during the shuttle hurdles.
Ferry claimed the OVAC Class 3A championship for the first time since 2000. The school also won the overall title.
"I don't think, in our wildest dreams, we thought we'd come out here and win the overall title," Materkoski said. "We told the girls to come out and take care of business. I didn't hear one word about the prom this week in practice, so I knew they were motivated and focused. To win the overall against schools that probably have 600 or so more girls than we have, really tells you something about these kids."
Ferry didn't win an overall event, but under the format, everyone participating in the championship meet aided the Purple Riders who had 13 individuals on hand.
The Riders were fueled by a runner-up finish in the long jump by sophomore Sarah Applegarth, who jumped 15-feet, 7-inches. She was also third in the 400-meter dash.
The Ferry shuttle team of Nikki Allen, Courtney Crolley, Ashley Griffith and Rikki Allen finished second overall in a time of 69.07.
Junior standout Sunshine Wrenn finished third overall in the 800, posting a 2:24.54.
Morgantown and Wheeling Park locked up in an all-out battle as they, along with the Riders, scored points in bunches to move up the overall team scoring list.
The Mohigans eventually outlasted the Patriots by three points, 94-91, for the 5A class title, which is their first.
Morgantown, which is coached by Shadyside High graduate Steven Blinco, captured five events for a quick 50 points.
Wheeling Park, meanwhile, had more depth across the board because it won just three overall events.
The lone Patriots individual to claim a gold was speedy junior Ashley Grove, who posted a meet-record time of 59.05 for the title.
Park's 800 team of Grove, RaKedra Webb, Nakysha McGee and Natasha Whitaker blazed two laps in 1:45.36.
The Patriots also captured the meet's final event, the 1,600 relay. The team of Grove, Webb, Whitaker and Lauren Tarovisky turned in a meet-record 4:07.65 for the gold.
Steubenville, led by coach Jason Kernahan, earned its first title since 1990. The school was led by junior Toschchel Demus, who was the class champion in the high hurdles, posting a 15.74.
Sophomore Paige Phillips was the champion in 4A in the 400 and 200. Carly Moro did her part in the 300 hurdles, beating all other 4A entrants with a 50.21.
Runner-up Edison was fueled by senior Nhung Tran, who was eighth overall, but first amongst her class in the 100.
St. Clairsville, which finished third in the team chase, was fueled by junior standout Alyssa Robinson. She remained undefeated in the shot put with a meet-record mark of 40-5.5.
Steubenville Catholic had its hands full from the start in the from of River, which finished second by 2.5 points, 51.5-49.
SCC was led by 2A shot put and discus champion Rachel Rigaud. Her discus mark of 92-9 was good enough for sixth place overall. Michaela Gotta was the 2A champion in the long jump at 14-ft-10 3/4.
River was led by junior standout Cassidy McCullough, who finished no lower than third in any of her four open events.
She's been the dominant low hurdler all season and continued that trend, breezing to the title by nearly 2 full seconds. She skimmed eight hurdles in 45.82.
Shadyside's Tara Tollet was the lone Tiger representative on hand, and she didn't disappoint. She was the OVAC champion in the 3,200 meter run, smashing the record with a time of 11:11.37.
Wheeling Central's impressive shuttle team of Emily Bucon, Adeline Schneid, Anna Pockl and Bailey Clark raced past Martins Ferry for the overall title in a meet-record time of 67.50.
St. John Central notched its 11th consecutive 1A crown and did so without much of a challenge.
The Irish rode the legs of freshman standout Fallon Doyle to the title. She was second overall in both the 1,600 and 800. She posted a solid 5:07.43 to win the 1A title in the longer race and a 2:24.49 in the two-lap race.
Bishop Donahue was led by the small-school shot put title of Becky Beiter, the high jump crown by Elasyia Hill, and the shuttle victory.