PARKERSBURG-Fresh off their victory at the Marietta Night Relays, Leah Fleek's Parkersburg girls track team will attempt to accomplish a feat that the Big Red girls have not been able to accomplish since 2003-capture the 16th annual Clear Channel MOV/Russ Parsons Invitational.
"It's been that long?" asked the second year, and former-Big Red runner, head coach. "It's hard to believe that's it has been that long. But when you look at the level of talent the teams that we bring to this meet, it isn't impossible to understand."
And 2013 will be no different as the eight-team field includes an Akron Buchtel squad that took home the top prize for girls in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and the boys title in 2008.
"They (Buchtel) have a lot of speed," added Fleek. "But I'm looking forward to seeing my girls compete against them."
Rounding out the field will be crosstown rival Parkersburg South, which won the boys title in 2011, Marietta, Athens, University, Mingo Central and Nelsonville-York. The Big Reds will also field a 'B' team.
"It appears as if the weather will be decent and, with the talent that we are bringing in, this should be a very competitive meet," said Fleek.
This also will be the final time Big Red fans will be able to see their teams compete at Stadium Field as Parkersburg will use the occasion to honor its seniors.
"We have seven girls and 13 or 14 boys," continued the coach. "They have all been a big part of the success that we have enjoyed so far this season and are the ones we are looking toward to provide leadership as we push forward to the state meet."
One of those, however, will not be Sarah Bever.
Only a sophomore, Bever has made an impact as she leads the Mid-Ohio Valley in the high jump (5-5), is second in the 100 meter highs (15.97) and third in the 300 meter lows (50.69) and helped the Big Reds to victories in the high jump and 4 by 400 meter relays at the Marietta Night Relays conducted on Tuesday at Don Drumm Field.
"She (Bever) is doing a good job, but she's not the only young girl on our squad doing good things this spring," said the coach. "We've had back-to-back solid freshman classes and you mix them in with our returning seniors and juniors and it has given us a lot more depth to work with this year."
Looking to defend the title it captured a year ago will be the Big Red boys of head coach Kenny DeMoss.
Parkersburg is coming off of a fourth-place finish at the Night Relays, but should be closer to full strength-Andrew Lyons will still be out with an injury-when action gets under way at 10 a.m. with the field events.
The foursome of Evan Rhodes, Adam Lindamood, Landon Miller and Chandler Hamilton have clocked the fastest time in the MOV in the 4 by 200 meter relay (1:33.65) while the quartet of Erik Musgrave, Austin Allman, Miller and Rhodes have posted the second best time in the shuttle hurdle relay (59.57).
Running action is slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. in the two session meet with the final session slated to begin at approximately 12:30 p.m.