PARKERSBURG - Twice is nice, but three times is most definitely better.
When the state track meet gets under way at 2 p.m. Friday inside the University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field the Williamstown girls and the Doddridge County boys will be out to capture the school's respective third straight Class A state crowns.
Although neither Doddridge County head coach Bobby Burnside nor Yellowjacket head man Zach Hall is ready to anoint their team with another crown just yet, the performances on the track from their thinclads this year most definitely makes them solid favorites.
Photo by Jay W. Bennett
Doddridge County’s Dillon Muhly-Alexander, pictured here at the Fenton Relays, will try and unseat two-time defending Class A high jump champion Anthony Aviles of Gilmer County at this week’s state track meet in Charleston.
"That's our goal, definitely," Burnside said of winning it all again after the Bulldogs went back-to-back last year for the first time in school history. "We know the competition is going to be fierce. We've been talking about some of the meets in the past where teams were supposed to win but didn't."
Perhaps great minds think alike because that's the scenario coach Hall has been kicking around lately. However, coach Hall likes the chances for the Yellowjackets and believes if everything goes the way of WHS it could surpass the 152 points it accumulated last spring.
"Actually, during this week I always predict what could go wrong, but going into this year I didn't think that could happen," Hall noted of the chance the WHS girls could do better than last year's state title team. "But, I'm not putting all my eggs in that basket.
"The Doddridge County girls still scare me to death. We've seen them all year, but they still scare me to death."
Coach Burnside also feels the same way about the Yellowjacket boys of head coach Doak Markley and he knows squads like Magnolia, Tyler Consolidated and Buffalo "can put some points together."
One person who has put his fair share of points up at the state meet is Bulldog senior Daniel Plaugher, the two-time defending high-point champion in Charleston who won both hurdles events last spring.
"That will be a challenge," Burnside of Plaugher finishing his career in Charleston with a third straight high-point award. "Daniel missed four weeks with a foot injury.
"He came back and ran one event at the LKC and last week is the first week in about five and a half weeks he ran three events. He's going to do the best he can in his events, but he wants the team to win it. He's a team guy."
Doddridge County junior Isaac Britton will be out to defend his state discus crown while teammate Dillon Muhly-Alexander could find himself in a high jump showdown with two-time state champion Anthony Aviles of Gilmer County. Aviles was state runner-up as a freshman and won the crown the last two years, but finished runner-up to Muhly-Alexander at the regional.
"Aviles is obviously a talented jumper and he's jumped well in Charleston," Burnside added. "Dillon is coming off a 6-6 jump, which ties our school record. He did that at the LKC and he tied the regional record last week. That should be a good competition."
There also should be a plethora of great competitions when it comes to events for the single-A girls.
Doddridge County's D'Andra Swiger is the returning high-point champion after amassing 36 points last year as a junior thanks in part to wins in the 300 hurdles, the high jump and the long jump.
Swiger should be challenged in the high jump by 2011 state champion Megan Steele of Williamstown.
"Megan beat Swiger at the LKC and lost to Swiger at the regional this year in the high jump," Hall added. "They both have the state record, but for some reason the WVSSAC doesn't have Megan as tying the record.
"Megan broke it her sophomore year and Swiger tied her record her junior year, so they both have the record, but it doesn't say that. Hopefully, Megan just beats it this year and she doesn't have to worry about it."
Both Williamstown's Andrea Chidester (100, 200, 400) and St. Marys' Maggie Drazba (800, 1600, 3200) were three event winners last spring in Charleston. In fact, Drazba has won the 800, the one-mile and the two-mile in every state event aside from finishing as runner-up during her freshman year in the 3200 to Charleston Catholic's Sami Harris.
Chidester is expected to be challenged in the 100 by Wahama's Kelsey Zuspan, who swept the 100 and 200 two years ago as a 10th grader, in the 200 by Swiger and is the heavy favorite in the 400.
Bulldog junior Sarah Ferguson will attempt to make it three-for-three in winning a state crown in the 100 hurdles, while Williamstown senior pole vaulter Lincoln Postlewaite is vying for her third crown. As a ninth-grader, Postlewaite was runner-up in the pole vault to teammate Liz Flowers.