ST. CLAIRSVILLE - It's officially time to get down to the business of crowning the final Ohio Valley Athletic Conference champions of the 2013-14 school year.
Qualifying for Saturday's Cal Giffin OVAC Track and Field Championship wrapped up at sun-drenched Red Devil Stadium as Class 1A/2A and 4A entered their automatic qualifiers in the nine remaining events to complete the field.
Saturday's action gets under way with field events at 10 a.m. and running events two hours later. All 16 competitors in Saturday's meet will score for their team to determine the class champions.
Big Red's Lysiah Rice ran half a lap in 26.85 to set the pace in the 200 meter dash
-- Mike Palmer
Martins Ferry's girls put forth another solid effort in qualifying. Sophomore ace Tyesha Allen led the way with the top 4A time in the low hurdles. She posted a 49.21.
The Riders also set the standard in the shuttles, running a 67.89.
Steubenville had a pair of individuals post the top qualifying mark. Elise Watts - the defending conference long jump champion - marked the sand at 16-7 to pace 4A.
On the track, Lysiah Rice ran half a lap in 26.85 to set the pace in the 200 meter dash.
Oak Glen's Kelsey Chambers continued her strong week and season by pacing the 1600 (5:21.61) and 800 (2:27.03).
St. Clairsville's 4x1 team was tops in the class with a 51.12, edging Steubenville. Harrison Central's Kiana Ghezzi led the discus qualifiers with a mark of 99-7.
A full-fledged, 18-event battle is about to ensue in the boys' 4A field with Martins Ferry, Meadowbrook and St. Clairsville positioning themselves to make a run at the conference title.
The Purple Riders paced four events on Thursday. Junior Brian Sadosky got things started with a season best shot put toss of 49-ft-7 1/2.
Junior Jack Fitch blistered the 300 hurdles to a tune of 40.85 to lead the way. Freshman distance dandy Jacob Bishop led the 1600 in 4:43.68.
The Riders' crack 4x1 team remained unbeaten and turned in a season-best time of 43.78.
St. Clairsville, which had a strong opening day of qualifying, was led by senior speedster Jaylon Brown. After leading two events on Tuesday, he raced to a 22.44 to lead the 200.
Josiah Rhodes soared over 6-feet to lead the high jump.
Steubenville skimmed 40 hurdles in 60.72 to edge Ferry for the top spot by 18 hundredths of a second.
Oak Glen's Cody Tropek ran a 2:05.99 to punch the top 4A ticket in the 800.
Meadowbrook led the way in the 4x4, posting a 3:28.40 to hold off Martins Ferry.
In the 1A/2A field, a battle between defending small-school champion St. John, 3A champion River and Wheeling Central could be ready to unfold on the girls' side.
St. John Central led three events in the qualiying round Thursday. Fallon Doyle - the defending conference champion in the 1600 - posted a 5:27.15 to lead the way.
Sophomore dandy Jessica Alvey marked the sand at 16-8 to lead the long jump.
Sophomore Lindsey Froehlich twirled the discus to a mark of 105-10 for the lead in the platter event.
Wheeling Central posted the qualifying mark in three events. Holland Matlock led the 800 field across the line in 2:35.49.
The Lady Knights' 4x1 (52.12) and shuttles (68.80) were the top entrants from the smallest division.
River sophomore dandy Abby Caldwell continued her fine week. She paced the 200 meter dash (26.89) and the 300 low hurdles (48.10).
Madonna's 4x4 team crossed the line in 4:19.86 for the top seed.
The most wide-open race of all divisions could be in the small-school boys' field.
Caldwell paced three events on Thursday and the other six contested were claimed by five schools.
Shadyside paced the 4x1 (45.69) and shuttles (62.89).
River's Brok Cross continued his solid season in the high jump, clearing 5-11.
Valley's Jacob Highley was the top shot putter in the 1A/2A field with a mark of 47-feet.
Wheeling Central's John Burkhalter led the 300 hurdles with a 44.65 and Madonna's Marquise Jeter turned in a 23.57 to pace the 200.