SHADYSIDE - The third weekend of April means a few things for track and field.
First and foremost, it's the time when coaches start really putting their finger on what they have and where they plan on utilizing their athletes to best maximize their points as the OVAC Championship meet begins a week from Monday.
Secondly, for the 42nd straight year, it's signified the annual running of 'Ohio's Finest.' The annual Shadyside Relays drew more than 25 schools in boys and girls to chilly and windy Fleming Field for Saturday's day-long affair.
River’s Cassidy McCullough sprints to victory in the 100 meter dash during Saturday’s 42nd annual Shadyside Relays. McCullough also won the 200 meter dash and 300 meter low hurdles.
For the second straight season, the Martins Ferry Lady Riders took home the top prize. The Lady Riders scored 96 points and fought off a solid Oak Glen squad, which closed with 81. Those two figure to be battling at the OVAC meet in Class 4A.
Garaway's boys depth and strength in distance helped guide the Pirates to the boys' title by virtue of 82 points. Linsly finished second with 78 points.
THE LADY RIDERS struck early in the field and then did what they normally do on the track, scoring high in sprints, hurdles, relays and middle distance en route to taking the crown. For the Lady Riders, it's their third meet title of the season. Earlier, they won the Bellaire Early Bird and the Martins Ferry Relays.
However, head coach Rich Materkoski told his girls all week leading up to Shadyside that this was a meet they were going after.
"We had everyone step up today," Materkoski said. "We told them we were going to run them ragged because this is one of our last pushes before the OVAC."
The Lady Riders' depth also paid dividends seeing they won just one individual event to go along with three relay crowns.
However, Ferry placed in 12 events during the course of the meet, which off-set Oak Glen's five championships quite well.
"This was a great win for these girls," Materkoski continued. "They should be extremely proud to win this meet. There's a lot of good competition and it's a good look at some people we'll see down the road."
Leading the way for the Lady Riders was senior pole vaulter Courtney Crolley, who soared over 9-ft-6 to capture her specialty.
The Lady Riders ended the morning session of running with a victory when the foursome of Crolley, Ashley Griffith, Tyesha Allen and Nikki Allen posted a solid 1:09.38 to win the shuttles.
Ferry's speed in the 4x100 and 4x200 was evident by victories in both. The Lady Riders' 4x1 foursome of Sarah Applegarth, Dionna Lee, Destiny Davis and Taylr Jenkins ran 52.97 to win.
The same foursome posted a 1:53.58 to win the 800 relay as well.
Oak Glen was led by senior Alexis Burch, who held off Ferry's Sunshine Wrenn down the stretch in the 400 with a 61.77. Junior Kelsey Chambers posted a 2:30.21 to win the 800 for the Lady Golden Bears. Senior Kaleena Crane cleared 4-ft-10 to win the high jump.
The Lady Bears also captured the 4x400 relay with a time of 4:22.60 and had earlier won the 4x400 with a 10:30.09.
The individual star of the meet was River senior Cassidy McCullough. She won the high-point sprint award with 30 and she only competed in three events, meaning she headed back to Hannibal with a trio of golds.
She ran away from the 100- and 200-meter dash fields in times 12.68 and 26.22, respectively. In between those races, she remained unblemished in her specialty, the 300-meter low hurdles. The reigning Division III state champion in the event won by more than two seconds by posting a 47.12.
St. Clairsville, which brought a limited cast to Shadyside because it celebrated prom, got a championship courtsey of UNC-Asheville signee Amy Castle. She prevailed in a deep and talented 3,200-meter field with a 11:17.12.
Wheeling Central's lone victory came in the first event of the afternoon when junior Bailey Clark posted a 16.48 to win the 100 high hurdles.
ON THE BOYS' SIDE, the Pirates used a sweep in the long distance races by Brady Yoder and Logan Kettlewell in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, respectively and, for good measure, they also took the second spot in the eight-lap race and it proved to be too much for the Cadets to overcome.
Linsly's boys were led by senior speedster Jamal Ebanks, who swept the short sprints. He won the 100 in 11.40 and the 200 in 23.31.
The Cadets' team of Luke Miller, Matt Moore, Chinello Oparanozie and Mike Hammond ran a 3:39.12 in the 4x400.
Martins Ferry's boys had another strong showing, finishing fourth overall with 60 points. Of those, 40 came on victories and, taking it a step further, 30 came in the field.
Senior strong man Sean McGee swept the two throwing events. He won the discus to start the day with a twirl of 145-ft-10. He then shifted to the shot put circle and prevailed with a throw of 54-ft-4.
Senior Cody Schau won the high jump title. He soared over 6-feet for the gold medal.
On the track, the Riders' 4x200 team of Brian Styles, Hunter Hill, Andrew Watts and Jack Fitch posted a 1:34.11 to win the event.
Oak Glen had a solid meet. Josh Weltner got things started for the Bears with a victory in the long jump (20-ft-6 1/4) and junior Cody Tropek captured the 800 in 2:07.20.
The Bears also captured the 4x100 in 45.93 and they won the shuttles in 64.04.
Barnesville's Jacob Anderson, who recently signed to run track at West Liberty, captured his specialty, the 300 intermediate hurdles in a solid time of 41.34.
St. John Central's lone victory of the meet was posted by junior Garrett Holubeck, who won the 400-meter dash in a time of 52.76.
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com