PARKERSBURG - The defending state champion Ritchie County boys track team of head coach Rick Haught will try to set themselves up for a repeat when the Class AA, Region I, meet gets under way today in Ellenboro.
Last spring, the Rebel boys nipped Magnolia, 121-116, to win the regional crown and then made the most of their good showing by besting the rest of the double-A teams at the state meet in Charleston.
This year the regional has changed and the field will be comprised of the host Rebels, Roane County, Oak Glen, Ravenswood, Fairmont Senior, East Fairmont, Braxton County, North Marion, Weir and Webster County. Field events are expected to start at 4 p.m. and running events will begin 30 minutes later.
"We're as healthy as we've been. Last Friday night was just a great momentum getter," Haught said of capturing the Little Kanawha Conference championship on their own track.
"There are five new teams in our region. We had eight last year and we have 10 this year. It's going to have a different feel to it. "
The Rebel boys are led by a trio of talented thinclads and last Friday at the LKC that list was topped by distance runner Johnny Hogue, who finished runner-up for high-point honors by scoring 29 points. Jessie Hilvers (27.5) and Jayden Allender (24) had the fourth and fifth best individual point totals, respectively.
Houge, who swept the mile and 2-mile crowns, was runner-up to Hilvers in the 800 and they should be vying for regional crowns today. Hilvers and Allender, who finished second in the 110 hurdles at the LKC, went one-two in the 300 hurdles with Hilvers taking the top spot.
"We ran some times Friday night (at the LKC) I wasn't expecting us to run until we got to Charleston," Haught added.
"We're kind of on a roll and hope to carry that through Friday night. Friday night is not about winning the meet. It's about beating people and qualifying."
The Roane County boys should produce some solid efforts this evening. At the LKC, Troy Fisher (400), Steven McGinnis (100) and Kyle Raines (pole vault) each had second place efforts.
Raider boys head coach John Gray's team also has a couple of talented relay squads. Roane's 4 by 400 with Raines, Fisher, JC Nichols and McGinnis won at the LKC. Also, Nichols, Ryan Bates, Raines and anchor Tyler Lee should be tough to handle in the shuttles after posting an LKC title.
The Oak Glen girls are expected to top the region, but there are still some talented local athletes to keep an eye on.
"She has the best double-A discus throw in the state and we're expecting big things out of her Friday," Ritchie County girls head coach Ted Vanscoy said of Rebel Mikayla Little, who won the event at the LKC and took runner-up honors in the shot put to Roane County's Emily McClain.
"Oak Glen is one of the best teams in the state. We've been working real hard all week and we hope the weather cooperates."
Another pair of female athletes to track are Ravenswood's Hailey Miller and Taylor Treadway, who were runner-up finishers at the LKC in the 400 and 3200, respectively.