BYESVILLE - The two-week trek to the Ohio State Track and Field Championship in Columbus is simply grueling.
However, several area Division II thinclads find themselves on the doorstep of a trip to the campus of The Ohio State University after punching their tickets to the regional meet, which opens Thursday at The Plains High School in Athens.
Prior to checking out marks for next week, area thinclads had to contend with a 13-team district meet at warm and sun-drenched Meadowbrook High School Saturday afternoon.
St. Clairsville will send a solid delegation to Athens County after the Red Devils finished as district runnerup with 87 points.
The Red Devils advanced in 11 events, but had only won one district championship.
Junior talent Drake Walker continued his impressive campaign in the 800 meter run. After flirting with going under the coveted 2-minute barrier, he broke it with his victory by two hundredths of a second.
The Red Devils did produce six district silver medalists, which is good for 48 team points.
Junior flash Jaylon Brown was second in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes, posting an 11.32 and 22.64, respectively. Senior Andy Thornburg, who is heading to UNC-Asheville, was runnerup to John Glenn's Zak Geiger in both the 1600 and 3200 meter runs. He posted times of 4:28.50 and 10:16.08. Senior Cole Antolak, who received an Eastern District Track Scholarship from the officials' association, was second in the 400 meters with a 50.69. Sophomore Colby Lindsay was runnerup in the discus with a twirl of 149-ft-5.
The Red Devils' sprint relay teams, which were seeded first entering Saturday's finals, had to go with a make-shift lineup after Brown was pulled due to precautionary reasons. However, the St. C. 4x100 team was third in 44.61 and 4x200 team was fourth in 1:33.79. The Devils were also third in the 4x400 with a 3:34.38.
During Thursday's action, sophomore Michael Eaton advanced in the pole vault by virtue of a fourth-place finish.
Martins Ferry relied on its elite personnel, including senior standout Richie Padyjasek and junior strongman Sean McGee to finish fourth overall with 67 points.
Padyjasek won a pair of events. He was the champion in the high hurdles, posting a 15.04. He also pocketed the long jump with a mark of 20-ft-7 1/2. The Seton Hill-bound hurdler also finished second in the 300 hurdles with a time of 40.68.
McGee, meanwhile, won the shot put crown on Thursday with an impressive put of 52-ft-8. He added a bronze medal in the discus thanks to a mark of 147-ft-9.Sophomore Brian Styles was fourth in the long jump with a mark of 19- feet.
The Purple's 4x100 team also earned a trip to next week with a fourth-place finish in a time of 45.00.
Steubenville finished sixth overall with 57.5 points. Big Red was led by their victorious 4x400 relay. Coach Jason Kernahan's club struck gold with a 3:30.90 in the meet's final event.
Steubenville was runnerup in the 4x200 with a 1:31.61.
Senior Najee Murray - the Ohio State football signee - advanced in the 100 meter dash after posting an 11.59. Sophomore Jaquan Lavender was third in the 400 with a 52.25.
Union Local will send a pair of individuals to the regional. Junior hurdling ace Collin Jones advanced in both the high and intermediate hurdles. He skimmed the highs in 15.92 to finish third. He was also third in the intermediates with a time of 41.98.
During Thursday's action, senior Kurtis Ogilbee advanced in the high jump with a victory. He cleared 6-feet.
Buckeye Local scored 28.5 points and senior speedster Jordan Piergallini played a role in 28 of those.Piergallini powered his way to the district title in the 100 and 200 meter dashes. He posted times of 11.26 and 22.58, respectively. He also ran a leg on the Panthers' 4x100 team, which finished second in the meet in a time of 44.34.
Edison's Kyle Minger pocketed the gold medal in the 400 meter dash, posting a solid time of 50.23. During Thursday's action, he also qualified fourth in the high jump.
Indian Creek will send a trio of distance runners to the regional in individual events. Junior Frank Kamarec was second in the 800 with a time of 2:01.67. Freshmen Max Lewis and Tyler Gaydosh finished fourth in the 800 and 3200 meter runs, respectively.
During Thursday's action, the Redskins' 4x800 team earned the right to run again.