By SETH STASKEY
For the Intelligencer
Championship Saturday of OVAC Track and Field has arrived.
After four days of qualifying rounds, the 'Sweet 16' in 18 events has been settled and the chance to be called a conference champion comes to fruition today.
The Cal Giffin OVAC Track and Field Championship wraps up this afternoon at Red Devil Stadium in St. Clairsville. The action gets under way this morning at 10 for field events and the first running events of the meet will commence at noon.
All 16 athletes and/or relay teams in today's events will be scored, but the top eight overall will medal. The champion of each class - regardless if he or she is in the top eight - will also be recognized.
Some very tight team races appear to be on the horizon with several teams positioning themselves to make a solid run toward the coveted banner.
On the boys' side, one of the most interesting battles could come in 4A where Martins Ferry, Meadowbrook and St. Clairsville all reside.
The Red Devils own the top seed overall in three events thanks to senior speedster Jaylon Brown. He led all divisions qualifying in the 100 (10.73), 200 (22.44) and the long jump (21-10).
In the two short sprints, he leads the remainder of the field by nearly a half a second in both events.
The Purple Riders also own the top seed in three events.
The speed foursome of Brian Styles, Jack Fitch, Hunter Hill and Andrew Watts pace the 4x1 (43.78) and 4x2 (1:31.99). The same quartet is the second seed in the 4x4, trailing Meadowbrook.
The lone individual Rider with the top mark is Fitch in the 300 hurdles at 40.85.
Steubenville senior Ja'Quan Lavender owns the top seed in the 400 by better than a second with his 50.09.
The other top seeds all reside in 5A, which also should be a tight battle between Wheeling Park, Cambridge and Parkersburg South.
Wheeling Park sophomore Richard Cummings is the top high hurdler in the field at 15.13.
Cambridge is expected to score high in several events. The Bobcats boast defending champions in the pole vault and high hurdles.
Louisville-bound Eric Fox leads the vault at 15-feet.
The Bobcats also lead the shuttles at 58.21.
South's top seeds are Dylon Rippeto in both the discus (165-1) and shot put (50-ft-11).
Evan DeGraef paces the high jump at 6-ft-4.
Indian Creek's Max Lewis has been the top 800 meter runner all season and posted a conference-leading 1:58.27.
On the girls side, more nip-and-tuck battles should ensue.
In the small-school division, St. John Central is seeking its 13th consecutive and 16th overall.
The Irish girls have the top seed at the 400 in sophomore Jessica Alvey. They also boast the defending 1600 champion Fallon Doyle. She also qualified in the 3200 meter run.
John Marshall has a solid opportunity to score well thanks in large part to talented sophomore Torie Derrow. She ran four individual events and posted the top mark overall in all of them.
She's the only long jumper in the field past the 17-foot barrier at 17-ft-3. She paces the high jump by four inches at 5-ft-4. She's nearly a second faster than anyone else in the high hurdles after skimming 10 timbers in 14.66.
Derrow also owns the top mark in the low hurdles, an event she's seldom run in her albeit short career, at 47.60.
Indian Creek's Whitney Martin has really come on of late in the sprints. She posted a 12.71 and a 26.47 to lead the 100 and 200 meters, respectively.
Wheeling Park had a solid week of qualifying, too. The Patriots' Lauren Dickerson is tops in the discus with a twirl of 119-ft-10.
Park also leads four relays. It's 4x1 and 4x2 are the top seeds at 1:47.20 and 49.96, respectively. The Patriots' shuttle team posted a 65.90, which is better than a second faster than Martins Ferry. The 4x4 team ran a 4:12.70.
The field events for today's first session are boys' dicus, girls' high jump, boys long jump, girls' shot put and boys' pole vault.