Wheeling Park Girls Pocket OVAC Title
ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference’s Cal Giffin OVAC Track and Field champion turned out to be basically just more of the same.
On the girls’ side, especially.
Teams that have combined for now 49 conference titles are making room on their gymnasium walls for yet another banner. The OVAC’s five-day stay wrapped up at overcast and soggy Red Devils Stadium in St. Clairsville on Saturday afternoon.
Wheeling Park (Class 5A), Martins Ferry (4A), Steubenville Catholic (3A) and St. John (1A/2A) pocketed the team hardware in a meet that was delayed more than an hour because of storms.
Russell Hutchins’ Patriots got back into their winning ways after finishing behind Morgantown each of the last two seasons. Park tallied 128.2 points, which was also good for the overall crown. That total was 12.3 points better than runner-up Morgantown, which had won the last two conference titles.
The championship marks the 11th all-time for the Park girls’ program.
“We have some quality kids and that’s what this meet is about,” Hutchins said. “Our kids came out and competed well all day. We knew we couldn’t match up with Morgantown’s distance, but we scored well in other areas and hung on.”
The Patriots got off to a strong start thanks to the work done by Lauren Dickerson in the discus. She captured the OVAC championship by nearly 5 feet after posting a mark of 121-0.
Park’s work in the relays also proved to be crucial to its success. The quartet of Cristin Dolan, Kayley Miller, Dickerson and Tamara Bumgardner skimmed 40 timbers in 65.68 for the gold medal.
The Patriots also won the 800 relay thanks to the speed of Miller, Rakedra Webb, Nakysha McGhee and Natalie Wiethe.
Park was also second in the 400 relay with the same team as the 800, except Bumgardner stepped in for Wiethe.
“This is fun to watch and the great part of these kids is they’re track athletes,” Hutchins said. “They feed off each other and watching other track athletes do well and pull themselves up to that level. We had kids step up all over the place and we have some great senior leadership.”
The Martins Ferry girls have been one of the area’s steadiest programs the last handful of seasons and the result has been three consecutive OVAC titles. They won their second straight 4A title by scoring 82.5 points, which was good enough for third overall.
“Our senior girls deserve this,” Ferry coach Rich Materkoski said. “They’ve done so much for our program to get the ball rolling again at Martins Ferry. There was a bit of a lull in the track program and these kids have brought it back up and set the standard.”
Materkoski’s team got to the finish line with the most points in 4A despite not winning any of the 18 events.
“We’ve done a good job during the week (in the last three seasons) of getting girls through to Saturday,” Materkoski said. “We’ve got some really good events and getting here during the week is the name of the game.”
Taking it a step farther, Ferry didn’t record a runner-up finish in the meet either, but it did score inside the top eight in 11 events.
Sophomore Tyesha Allen led the way with three finishes inside the top eight, placing fourth in the highs, sixth in the lows and eighth in the long jump.
The Riders’ 400 team of Sarah Applegarth, Ashley Griffith, Malyah Coleman and Talyr Jenkins finished as bronze medalist with a time of 51.98. The Purple Riders shuttle squad of Allen, Ashley Griffith, Nikki Allen and Jenkins turned in a 68.72 for fourth place. The Riders added a second-place in the 1600 relay thanks to the team of Applegarth, Dalethia Johnson, Truchan and Lauren Bennett.
St. John Central captured its 13th consecutive conference title and 16th in school history. The Irish didn’t qualify to all that many events during the week, but they made up for it scoring well in the events in which they compete.
“Our girls love this OVAC meet and they really step it up,” Irish coach Paul Xenakis said. “This meet brings the best out in them. Plus, I get the sense that the girls don’t want to let (the winning streak) end, so it raises their level of competitiveness.”
The Irish were led by their duo of sophomore Jessica Alvey and junior distance star Fallon Doyle. Alvey captured a pair of OVAC titles, marking the first two of her career, and she got things started for the Irish with a victory in the long jump with a mark of 17-4 1/2.
During the afternoon’s running events, she circled the track in 58.56 to take the 400 title.
Doyle, meanwhile, didn’t win an individual title, but inished second twice. She was the silver medalist in the 1,600 (5:12.38) and the 3,200 (11:48.04).
Steubenville Catholic was able to get the job done in Class 3A with only one champion and it didn’t come until after the meet title was well decided.
“After not (winning) it last year and coming back this year to get it in a (different) class is nice,” SCC coach Rob Copeland. “We had a lot of uncertainties in the new division, but it’s a testament to our kids and coaches for how they compete.”
The Crusaders’ 1,600 team of Taylor Bednar, Monica Rigaud, Jordan Wood and Kara Kakascik posted a 4:18.10 to win the final race, holding off Martins Ferry for the victory.
The Crusaders’ top individual finish was a second-place effort from both Moriah Vosteen (high jump) and Kacascik (400). Vosteen cleared 5-2 and Kacascik recorded a season-best time of 59.63 for the silver.
Rigaud was third in the high hurdles, posting a 15.53.
River, which won the 3A title last season, settled for second behind the Irish in the small-school field after dropping down a class. The Pilots retained their stranglehold on the low hurdle title as sophomore Abby Caldwell posted a 46.59 to capture the low hurdle title.
Indian Creek senior Whitney Martin continued her late surge by completing the sprint sweep. She won the 100 and 200 in 12.61 and 26.48, respectively.
John Marshall sophomore Torrie Derrow captured a pair of gold medals as she won the high jump at 5-4 and then added her second consecutive high hurdles title with a 15.07.