PARKERSBURG - The place to be today for track and field fans of the Little Kanawha Conference will be at Tyler Consolidated High School as the league championships will get under way at 4 p.m. with field events and at 5 p.m. for the running events.
The boys' track team of Ritchie County head coach Rick Haught, a prime contender for the Class AA state crown later this month after taking runner-up honors last spring, will be out to garner its third straight LKC crown and the fourth in five seasons.
In the girls' team race, defending state Class A and LKC champion Williamstown is favored with Doddridge County lurking. The Bulldog boys are currently ranked first in the state in Class A, but will need a better than solid showing to dethrone the Rebels.
Pole vaulter Liz Flowers of Williamstown will try and help the Yellowjackets win a second straight LKC crown tonight at Tyler Consolidated.
"The meet is going to be real competitive," said DCHS boys' track coach Bobby Burnside, whose thinclads return LKC winners from a year ago in 110 meter hurdler Daniel Plaugher and 100 meter dash champion Corey Aichele.
"The defending champions, Ritchie County, they are coming on strong and they always perform well at the conference meet."
St. Marys' senior Derek Renner is back for his final LKC meet and will try to win high-point honors again after amassing 30 points in Glenville last year. Renner is the reigning 400 champ and just edged Aichele to win the 200 - 23.69 to 23.73.
Two other victors for the boys from last spring who are back trying to defend their titles are Williamstown's Aaron Jones in the long jump and St. Marys' Charlie Drazba in the 2-mile.
Maggie Drazba of St. Marys is heavily favored to win the high-point girls title after finishing second last year to then senior Gretchen Lantz of South Harrison. Drazba set an LKC record in the 2-mile with her time of 11:06.87 and will be looking to defend her title in the 800 and 1600 as well.
"The girls seem excited," said Williamstown head girls track coach Zach Hall of pulling off a repeat crown tonight. "I guess it's time for them to start peaking and there should be some fast times. We like having the target on our back."
The Yellowjackets have a quartet of returning LKC individual champions thanks to Andrea Chidester (100), Madelin Gardner (200), pole vaulter Lincoln Postlewaite and high jumper Megan Steele.
Also out to defend individual titles from 2011 are St. Marys' discus winner Audra Clark and Doddridge County's Sarah Ferguson, who won the 100 hurdles a year ago as a freshman.