The Martins Ferry track teams came into the season with high expectations.
It's safe to say after Saturday's performance at sun-drenched 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 over the course of the 18-event meet, which was 88 better than the Red Devils.
Martins Ferry junior Sean McGee unloads his winning put of 55-ft-11 in the shot during Saturday’s Bellaire Early Bird at Nelson Field.
The Lady Riders 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 Rider thinclads who've battled flu-like conditions in the past 10 or so days.
Jenkins didn't miss a beat. She won 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 Lady Purple Riders by winning the long jump with a mark of 14-ft-11 1/4. On the track, Applegarth turned in a solid 1:01.8 to win the 400 meter dash.
A short time later, junior Courtney Crolley notched the pole vault crown for the Purple people. She cleared 8-ft-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.
The solid foursome of Applegarth, Wrenn, Sunnie Ruble and Jenkins posted a 4:36.0 to win the 4x400. The 4x200 team of Applegarth, Nikki Allen, Kayce Neely and Jenkins ran 1:54-flat 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-ft-3. She added the discus title with a twirl of 101-ft-6.
On the track, the Lady Red Devils claimed the 4x800 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 1600 by more than 30 seconds and the 3200 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 as the girls. Ferry's boys won seven events. They got off to a strong start toward their crown 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-ft-11 to win the shot put 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-ft-10 1/2. 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-ft-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 to win.
The all freshman quartet of Hunter Hill, Josiah Burress, Shawon Manns and Brandon Laughman ran a 1:42.7 for the victory in the 4x200.
The squad of Andrew Deaton, Bryan Brayer, Theo Zoumpoulidis and Lee Ackerman ran a 9:41.6 to win the 4x800.
St. Clairsville won a trio of individual events. Sophomore speedster Jaylon Brown posted an 11.1 to win the 100 meter dash. 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-ft-6.
The St. C. 4x100 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 in the meet. Junior Brandon Stephens won the 1600 meter run 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 meter run and Katlin Grimes posted a 10:50.5 to win the 3200 meter run.
The Shamrocks' 4x400 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.
Many area track teams return to the invitational scene Tuesday evening at Martins Ferry High School for the third annual Reisbecks Martins Ferry Relays.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org