ST. CLAIRSVILLE - The five-day event known as the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Track and Field Championship got under way Monday evening at Red Devil Stadium.
The 4A and the combined 1A/2A classes began their chase for Saturday's championship meet with qualifying rounds in nine events. The remaining nine events for those classes will be contested on Wednesday.
The action picks up again at 4 p.m. today in the Belmont County seat for field events and 5 p.m. for running for the Class 3A and 5A schools. They'll wrap up their qualifying on Thursday to set the stage for Saturday's championship meet.
CLEARING THE BAR — Toronto’s Erica Price gets airborne in the Class 1A/2A high jump qualifying during Monday’s Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Track and Field Championships at St. Clairsville High?School.
-- Mike Palmer
FLYING THROUGH THE AIR — Weir High’s JoJo Rice while long jumping during Monday’s Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Track and Field Championships at St. Clairsville High?School.
-- Mike Palmer
In Class 4A, the boys' team race appears to be wide open and first-day qualifying further proves that notion.
Five schools produced a top qualifier and four of those had two top seeds in the class.
The host Red Devils, who are the defending champions in Class 4A, were led by junior pole vaulter Michael Eaton, who soared over a personal-best 14-feet to lead the way.
Junior jet Jaylon Brown was the top qualifier in the 100 in a time of 11.51.
Martins Ferry also produced a pair of top qualifiers. The Purple Riders were led by senior Sean McGee, who twirled the discus to a mark of 149-6 to lead the way.
The Purple Riders' strength in relays was demonstrated by a solid 1:32.35 effort to lead the 4x200 qualifying.
Steubenville's speed troops were led by Ja'Quan Lavender in the 400, clocking a 51.10. Joey Nodianos led the way in the 110 hurdles in a time of 16.00.
East Liverpool paced the long jump and 3200 meter run, while Meadowbrook led the way in the 4x800.
The 4A girls' race appears to be a two-team battle developing between Martins Ferry, which is the defending class and overall champion, along with Oak Glen.
Both the Lady Riders and Golden Bears enjoyed solid afternoons of qualifying.
Martins Ferry turned in three top-qualifying performances. Senior Courtney Crolley set the standard in the pole vault at 9-6. Junior speedster Taylor Jenkins posted a 13.25 to lead the 100 and junior Dionna Lee led the high jump at 5-foot.
Oak Glen senior leader Alexis Burch set the pace for the evening in the 400, turning in a solid 59.66.
St. Clairsville, which figures to score well on Saturday, paced two events. Senior Alyssa Robinson remained unblemished and re-wrote the 4A recordbook in the shot put. The Penn State signee, who is the defending OVAC and state champion, launched the iron ball to a mark of 42-1. Senior Julianna Madzia led the 3200 meter qualifying in 11:40.83.
Steubenville led the way in the 4x200 with a time of 1:49.20 and Toshchel Demus ran a 16.10 to lead the 100 hurdle qualifying.
Weir paced the 4x800, which was one of the most competitive races of the evening, with a time of 10:14.32.
In Class 1A/2A, Steubenville Catholic Central is aiming to keep its streak of titles alive. Both the Crusader boys and girls got off to strong starts.
The Lady Crusaders set the pace in four events, including Moriah Vosteen's 5-foot high jump.
Monica Rigaud turned in a 16.20 to lead the 100 hurdles and the Lady Crusaders' 4x200 posted a 1:50.19. The Lady Crusaders' 4x8 team ran a 10:32.00 to lead the distance relay.
Shadyside senior Tara Tollett coasted eight laps to a time of 11:42.35 to lead the way in the 3200 meter run. Frosh McKayla Kinemond was the top qualifier in the small-school pole vault, clearing 8-feet.
Talented and speedy St. John frosh Jessica Alvey ran an impressive 59.88 to lead the small-school 400 meter dash qualifying by nearly three seconds.
The Steubenville Central boys were led by talented senior Doug Maslowski. He paced the high hurdles in 14.87 and then led the 100 in 11.47.
The Crusaders also led the distance relay when their 4x8 team ran a 8:46.31.
Valley, which won the Class 1A title last season, paced qualifying in two events. Tucker Cain was tops in the pole vault (10-0) and senior thrower Spencer Mason twirled the discus 146-10.
Shadyside's Eric Howell was the top long jump qualifier with a mark of 19-4.
St. John Central's Corey Leasure turned in a 10:08.44 to pace the 3200 meter run.