WILLIAMSTOWN - The question for today's ninth annual Ryan Jobes Spring Special at Williamstown High School is whether or not the host Yellowjackets can get back on top of the team standings.
Last spring at the Jack Jones Track and Field Facility, the Ritchie County boys topped head coach Doak Markley's WHS squad, 126-98. Plus, two-time defending RJSS champion Williamstown lost its stranglehold for the girls when Hurricane claimed the team title, 122-115.
Now, it will be the Rebel boys of head coach Rick Haught - Class AA's current two-time defending state champions - aiming to defend their Ryan Jobes crown when field events get under way at 10 a.m. and running events start at 11 a.m.
"You don't really have any idea what everybody has. I think we'll be strong in some areas," said Markley, whose team hasn't competed in a meet yet this season.
"A lot of years we've had a quad meet before this. I think our relays will do really well. At state (in Class A) we won the 4 by 100, 4 by 200 and 4 by 400, but we've had to replace a couple of people."
Earlier this week, the Rebels had a small home meet and had a pair of triple winners in junior Jayden Allender and University of Richmond-bound senior Johnny Hogue. Hogue won the 400, 800 and 1600. Allender claimed crowns in the 200, high jump and 300 meter hurdles.
"We've got some new people out and some young kids coming up and I want to see what they do under fire," added Markley, who noted he's expecting big things this year from a lot of his guys, including the likes of pole vaulter Dalton George, Chandler Antill (1600), Kelton Hutchins (3200) and sprinters Trace Hart/Matt Zlatkind.
Williamstown girls coach Zach Hall said he might have an entire freshman unit running the 4 by 200 on Saturday.
Senior sprinter Andrea Chidester is one of the top returning Yellowjackets this year and the coach also said he's "excited about" Madelin Gardner being a first-time pole vaulter.
"I'm excited to see this group of freshmen run," Hall added. "Everybody seems to be talking about their freshman class and I'm excited about my freshman class."
"The kids are getting tired of practices, especially cold ones. I know they are ready to actually run."
Aside from Ritchie County and the host Yellowjackets, the remainder of the 12-team field is slated to include Tyler Consolidated, Wirt County, University, Parkersburg South, Parkersburg Catholic, Magnolia, Linsly, Bishop Donahue, St. Marys and Wahama.
Also of note, fans in attendance will get the chance to see University senior Amelia Paladino, who on March 16 established a new West Virginia all-time best mark in the mile when she ran a 4:43.84 at the New Balance National Indoor Meet.