It's time to officially close the book on prep track and field for the 2012 season.
The Times Leader's annual boys track and field honorees have been chosen and are featured today after another strong season on area ovals.
Buckeye Local's Jordan Piergallini rose from relative unknown to become the area's premier sprinter all season. For his efforts, he earns the captaincy on this year's team.
PICTURED IS the 2012 All Times Leader Boys Track Team. Kneeling, from left, are Brandon Stephens (Barnesville), Corey Leasure (St. John), Cody Frey (Bridgeport), Jaylon Brown (St. Clairsville), Jacob Anderson (Barnesville) and Jake Dull (Shadyside). Standing, from left, are Sean McGee (Martins Ferry), Richie Padyjasek (Martins Ferry), Jordan Piergallini (Buckeye Local), Andy Thornburg (St. Clairsville), Kurtis Ogilbee (Union Local), Drake Walker (St. Clairsville) and Coach Ben Frye (St. Clairsville).
St. Clairsville head coach Ben Frye, who guided his squad to yet another OVAC title and then a regional crown, has been recognized as the T-L Boys Track Coach of the Year.
Here's a capsule look at the honorees:
JORDAN PIERGALLINI, Buckeye Local - The best adjective Buckeye Local track coach Diane McCracken could find to describe this Panthers' senior is "determined."
Piergallini showed his level of determination all season as he developed into the area's premier sprinter. He consistently ran under 11-seconds in the 100, posting a personal best time of 10.83 in the regional. He also flirted with the 22-flat barrier in the 200.
Piergallini was the Division II state runnerup in the 100 meter dash and tied for fifth place in the 200 in a sprint where the third through seventh places were decided by hundredths, if not thousandths of a second.
En route to Columbus, Piergallini was the OVAC 100 meter champion, district champion in both the 100 and 200. He then won the regional and anchored the Panthers' 4x1 to the state meet, moving from sixth to fourth in the final leg.
"Nothing was going to stop Jordan from participating in state competition," McCracken said. "Jordan has a true athletic talent and his ambitious, hard-working attitude allowed him to make the state podium. I really think one of my fondest memories of Jordan is how badly he wanted to take the 4x1 team to state. I can do nothing, but sing his praises."
CODY FREY, Bridgeport - This Bulldog senior came into the season with his goals set and didn't relent.
Frey was one of the area's top high hurdlers, but he was the area's premier intermediate hurdler. He qualified for his first state track meet after winning the district and regional titles. At the state meet, he placed fifth.
The future Notre Dame College competitor was also the OVAC champion in the event and led the Ohio Valley with a 39.20.
"Cody had a great season," said Bridgeport rookie head coach Donnie Cash. "He worked his butt off with his (assistant) Coach (Jeff) Frey to accomplish his goals. He was happy with his results at the state track meet. He was a pleasure to coach throughout his high school athletic career, and I wish him the best of luck at the next level."
RICHIE PADYJASEK, Martins Ferry - This Purple Rider senior had his most successful season and his head coach believes it's just the beginning for him.
Padyjasek reached his first state track meet and placed fourth in the Division II 110M high hurdles. He was the district champion and regional runnerup in the event. He was also the OVAC champion.
Along with his high hurdle prowess, Padyjasek, who is heading to Seton Hill, was one of the area's top intermediate hurdles and a consistent 20-foot plus long jumper. He also ran on the Riders' 4x1 team, which advanced to the regional final.
"Richie had an excellent year," said Riders' head coach Rich Materkoski. "He deserves everything he's earned this season because he worked so hard. I am really looking forward to seeing him run at the collegiate level."
SEAN McGEE, Martins Ferry - This Riders' junior has raised the bar after a splendid campaign this past spring.
McGee was the conference's top shot putter with a personal-best mark of 55-ft-11. He advanced to his first state meet and finished fifth in the state, securing his status as all-Ohio. He was fourth in the regional and won the district. He was the OVAC champion.
McGee also had a solid season in the discus circle with a season-best toss of 160-ft-6.
"We're really looking forward to Sean's senior season after the amazing season he had this year," Materkoski said. "We think if he continues to be a student of the throws, he is going to be a 60-footer next season. He's the ultimate competitor."
JAKE DULL, Shadyside - This senior was another who realized this was his last chance and invested the time, effort and energy to make the most of it.
Dull was a state qualifier in the 300 meter hurdles and placed seventh in the state meet after qualifying with a personal best time of 39.88 in the state semifinal. Dull was an OVAC placer in both the intermediates and highs. He was district runnerup in the intermediates and placed third in the regional.
"Jake set a goal at the beginning of the season to be running on June 1 and 2," said Shadyside head coach Jenna Coyne. "In order to do that, he knew he had to put 110 percent into practice each day and he did just that. Jake's one of the athletes that I would have loved to have had a few more of or at least be able to use in more than four events."
ANDY THORNBURG, St. Clairsville - This Red Devils' senior put the finishing touches on a brilliant prep career with an all-Ohio finish at the state track meet.
Thornburg finished eighth in the state 1600 meter run, earning his first medal in Columbus. He was the district runnerup in both the 16 and 3200 meter runs. He was the regional runnerup and placed in the 3200. He also ran a leg on the Red Devils' 4x400 team, which placed and pushed the Devils to the regional championship.
Thornburg was the OVAC champion in both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs.
"Andy has been an integral part of our team for the last four seasons," said Frye. "He has a tremendous work ethic as well as being a great character kid. He's a team player, who loves what he does and he's a wonderful role model for the young kids."
DRAKE WALKER, St. Clairsville - This Red Devils' junior demonstrated that hard work pays off as he exploded onto the scene as the area's premier 800 meter runner.
Walker was a standout middle distance racer for the Red Devils. He qualified for the state meet at 800 meters when he ran a personal-best time of 1:57.51, which was the best time in the conference this season by nearly two seconds.
Walker was the district champion and regional runnerup in the event. He also captured the OVAC title.
"Drake really found himself this season," Frye explained. "He ran sub two minutes multiple times and it's a direct reflection of his hard work. We're definitely excited to have him back for one more season."
JAYLON BROWN, St. Clairsville - This sophomore showed his level of perseverance this past spring.
After a brilliant freshman campaign, Brown battled some injuries throughout much of the season, but still put forth a solid campaign for the Red Devils, qualifying to the state meet in four events. Included were the 100 and 200 meter dashes.
Brown was an OVAC placer in all of the short sprints and also ran legs on the Devils' 4x1 and 4x2 teams.
"Jaylon is one of the toughest competitors around and we're looking forward to what he can do over the next two seasons," Frye explained.
JUWAN WHETSTONE, Bellaire - This senior speedster was a model of consistency for the Big Reds.
Whetstone qualified to his first state meet in the 100 meter dash where he narrowly missed qualifying for the state final. He ran a season-best time of 11.1 and was the OVAC runnerup. He was the district champion in the 100 and 200 meter dashes and finished fourth in the regional.
"Juwan was a great leader for us this spring," said Bellaire head coach Shawn Valloric. "He worked so hard to make himself better and that rubbed off on the younger guys he had with him on the relays. He did a few things people probably doubted he could do, but he used that as motivation to make himself and his teammates better."
KURTIS OGILBEE, Union Local - This Jets' senior really took off in the high jump this season.
Ogilbee was the area's top high jumper, having cleared a personal-best height of 6-ft-4. During the course of the season, he re-wrote the UL school record book twice. He was the OVAC champion, district champion and narrowly missed the state meet when he placed fifth in the regional.
"Kurtis had an amazing season," said UL head coach Rebecca Dawes. "I was very pleased with the season he had to end his high school career."
COREY LEASURE, St. John Central - This Irish junior put forth a brilliant season, but he got caught in a numbers' game at the Navarre Regional.
Leasure was the Ohio Valley's premier 3200 meter run. He led Eastern Ohio with a 9:41.40 clocking. He won the district title and advanced to the regional, which proved to be the most difficult in the state. He finished sixth in the aforementioned clocking.
He was the Class 1A OVAC champion in the long distance race.
"Corey would have qualified for the state in every other regional in the state," said Irish track coach Paul Xenakis. "His regional time actually would have placed in the state. He's got a very strong work ethic and improved more than we thought possible this season. We're certainly excited to have him back next year."
BRANDON STEPHENS, Barnesville - This Shamrocks' middle distance junior had an impressive season in the 800 meters.
Stephens was one of the area's top two-lap racers, posting a season-best time of 1:59.53. He was the OVAC runnerup, district runnerup and placed just outside of the top four in the regional despite running sub two minutes.
"Brandon is a very hard worker, who always came to practice and meets with the correct mindset," said Barnesville head coach Dylan Rogers. "I am very excited to see what he's going to be able to do next year."
JACOB ANDERSON, Barnesville - This Shamrocks' junior came from relative obscurity to become one of the top 300 hurdlers in the area.
Anderson was third in the district meet and placed fifth in the regional, missing out on the state meet by 4 hundredths of a second in the event. He was also a solid relay contributor for the Shamrocks.
"Jacob is another very hard worker," Rogers said. "His times dropped tremendously throughout the season, which shows that the work he put in did pay off. I am confident that his times will continue to drop next season, too."
BEN FRYE, St. Clairsville - This Red Devils' mentor just seems to continually find a way to get it done.
Frye led his talented, but not deep, Red Devils to the Buckeye 8, OVAC Class 4A and then capped off the season with a regional championship in Athens. All told, he guided seven boys' athletes to the state meet in six events.
"It was a great season and everything we accomplished was a direct results of the kids' hardwork and the effort put in by my coaching staff," Frye said. "It's a total team effort between everyone and we've got a lot of guys coming back, so we're looking forward to next season as well."
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com