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 afternoon at sun-drenched Red Devil Stadium as the overall and five class champions received their hardware, bringing the championship year to a close for the OVAC.
Martins Ferry had been the premier girls team in the immediate area all season. The Lady Riders had captured the Bellaire Early Bird, Martins Ferry Relays, Shadyside Relays and Buckeye 8 titles already this season.
MARTINS FERRY’S Sarah Applegarth runs in the 4x200 meter relay during Saturday’s OVAC?Championship meet. She was second in the long jump, third in the 400 and led the Lady Riders to the overall and Class 3A OVAC?titles. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
However, each week head coach Rich Materkoski professed to his Lady Riders that the bigger goals were still ahead.
The message got across loud and clear and neither Morgantown, nor the prom, could slow down the Lady Riders of accomplishing the ultimate goal.
Ferry is making room in its trophy case for OVAC Class 3A championship trophy for the first time since 2000. And while cleaning a spot for the trophy, it will need to make room on a wall for the school's first overall title and the banner that goes along with it.
"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."
The interesting thing about Ferry's victory is the fact that it prevailed and didn't win an overall event, but under the format, everyone participating in the championship meet, which aided the Lady Purple, who had 13 individuals on hand.
"All of our girls are doing four events, so we had some tired kids toward the time when it got to the shuttles and the 4x4, but we told them to suck it up and run," Materkoski said.
The Lady Riders were fueled by a runner-up finish in the long jump by sophomore Sarah Applegarth, who marked the sand at 15-ft-7. She was also third in the 400 at 59.97.
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 meter run, posting a 2:24.54.
Crolley was the top 3A pole vaulter at 9-feet, while the Ferrians' 4x800 team was third overall and tops in 3A with a time of 10:16.25. She was also the top high hurdler at 16.87.
The Lady Riders' 4x200 and 4x400 teams were tops in their division as well, posting a 1:50.71 and a 4:22.76, respectively.
Jamie Truchan was the 3A winner in the 1600 meter run with a 5:44.93.
Monroe Central's Kayley Stephens had an impressive showing of 5-feet in the high jump, which was good enough for third overall.
Bellaire's Myleah Green was impressive, finishing second overall in the shot put (35-ft-8) and fifth overall in the discus (97-1). Both were tops in her class.
Bridgeport's Brianna Massey had a strong showing. She was impressive in the 200 meter dash, posting a top finish in the class and fourth overall at 26.80. She also led the class in the 100 (12.94).
Barnesville's Lina Partridge was the top 3200 meter runner in her class, posting a 12:52.85.
In the small-school class, it was just more of the same for the St. John Central Lady Irish. The Green gals notched their 11th consecutive 1A crown and did so without much of a challenge.
"We had a good performance from Fallon (Doyle) in the distance races, our young throwers came through and our seniors came up big, too," said SJC head coach Paul Xenakis. "We weren't sure what was going to happen after qualifying, but things worked out for us."
The champion Lady Irish rode the legs of freshman standout Fallon Doyle to the title. She was second overall in both the 1600 and 800 meter runs. 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.
Senior Lindy Stauffer was the top 1A runner in the 3200 meter run, posting a 12:44.72.
Beallsville's Hayley Campbell brought the small-school discus title back to Monroe County with a mark of 98-ft-4. She was fourth overall.
St. Clairsville, which finished third in the team chase behind Steubenville and Edison, respectively, was fueled by junior standout Alyssa Robinson. She remained undefeated in the shot put with a meet-record mark of 40-ft-5 1/2.
Senior Taryne Soukup was the 4A champion in the long jump with a mark of 15-ft-0 1/2.
Junior Julianna Madzia was the top 4A finisher in the 800 meter run (2:29.73). Amanda Hoffman was the 4A discus winner with a mark of 82-ft-5.
Union Local's Arika Kemp was the top pole vaulter in the second biggest class, clearing 9-ft-6.
The last several years, the OVAC meet has almost been a walk in the park for Steubenville Central's Lady Crusaders, but they had their hands full from the word go from River's Lady Pilots, which finished second by 2.5 points, 51.5-49.
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 two full seconds. She skimmed eight hurdles in 45.82.
She was also runnerup in the 100 (12.59) and 200 (26.53), while logging third place in the high hurdles.
The Lady Pilots' shuttle team also won its class in 1:16.87.
Shadyside's Tara Tollet was the lone Lady Tiger representative on hand. She didn't disappoint. She was the OVAC champion in the 3200 meter run, smashing the record with a time of 11:11.37. She settled for third in the 1600 meters with a 5:14.02.