PARKERSBURG - During his days at Belpre High School, Rod O'Donnell became friends with a Big Red runner named Kim Nutter.
Tonight, at Stadium Field, the first-year coach will try to lead the Parkersburg boys to a repeat championship of the meet named in honor of the former-All American.
"I coached Kim (Nutter) when I was at Marshall University," said O'Donnell. "It means a great deal to me to coach in a meet named after him. He was a tremendous young man, and runner, and he meant a lot to this school and area."
The Big Reds will be joined by John Marshall and Wheeling Park when action begins at 4:30 p.m. in the field events. Several other teams had to back out of the early season meet due to the WVSSAC's rule requiring 14 practices.
"I'm only going to have 25 girls," head coach Leah Fleek explained. "I have 53 girls, but half of them did not get the required 14 practices in and that was with us practicing on Saturday."
Words echoed by O'Donnell.
"We won't be at full strength," said the former-Caldwell and Hudson High School coach. "The weather played a part, but the WVSSAC's decision to move the schedule up forced us to move our meet to an earlier date and you see the result-three teams that won't be at full strength."
The Big Reds, who captured a 184-165 decision over Doddridge County a year ago, will have some quality on the oval as senior sprinter Chandler Hamilton returns in hopes of repeating his victories in the 100 (11.36) and 200 (23.82) meter dashes while senior Brandon Pethel and junior Daniel Fox will look to return to the top in the discus (162-8) and long jump (19-10.5), respectively.
On the girls' front juniors Sarah Bever and Whitney McAtee are back in search of repeat titles in the 100 meter high hurdles (15.97) and high jump (5-2) and shot put (34-1) and discus (111-7), respectively. Parkersburg captured the girls title last year by a 150-101 margin over Hampshire.
"We are going to try to do some different things," said Fleek. "We will have some kids running in different relays and will move some kids around in an attempt to get as many points as we can out of each."
Running events in the two session meet will begin at 5 p.m. with qualifying in the 100 and 200 meter dashes and high hurdles as well as finals in the 400 meter dash and 3200 meter run.
"We don't cancel track meets," said O'Donnell. "We've got two decent teams coming and we need the competition. So, we'll be out there looking to get the season off to a winning start."