Track athletes embark on South Invite

PARKERSBURG – Mother Nature wasn’t kind to area track teams for practice on Thursday and more of the same could be looming today when the second annual Parkersburg South Invitational is held at the Erickson All-Sports Facility.

While the host Patriots of girls head coach Shawn Shockey and boys head man Steve Fox are excited to showcase the new track, ideally they’d like to do so in warm and dry weather conditions.

“Not good,” quipped Shockey, whose girls were runner-up at the Ryan Jobes Spring Special last weekend in Williamstown, of the weather outlook. “You can set your calendar (for bad weather) by the South track meets.

“I’ve been tracking it all week and it’s staying about the same temperature and it’s the same prospect for thunderstorms.”

Nonetheless, field events are slated to get underway at 4:30 p.m. today, with running events beginning at 5 p.m.

Defending girls champion Parkersburg High School, which had a triple-winner last spring, thanks to Sarah Bever (won high jump and both hurdles events), is in the field and will be back to try and secure a repeat. However, the defending champion Big Red boys will not be in attendance.

“I’ve got 17 freshmen and nine more girls who are out for the first time and I’m still trying to figure out what they can do,” added Shockey, who watched senior Kasey Williams claim titles last Saturday in the open 100 and the long jump.

“I’m just moving them around and trying to figure out times and distances in other events. We’re just trying to find out some things on the new kids.”

Coach Fox was pleased with the Patriot boys after posting 120 points at the RJSS and walking away with the team title.

“We have 12 freshmen and a few sophomores and seniors who are new and right now at the beginning of the season, I’m not sure where to place them,” Fox admitted, as his team is expected to have plenty of moving parts in the early going.

“We’re putting the kids in a variety of events to see where they can help out the team. We had several kids who didn’t compete last week who will be here this week.”

Patriot Dylon Rippeto, the PSI’s defending discus champion and Class AAA state runner-up in 2013, will make his season debut.

“Anthony Bibbs had limited to no experience whatsoever as a long jumper and the first meet this year, he jumps 19-5 and wins,” Fox added. “When you have events like that, it puts a big smile on a coach’s face when you don’t expect it.”

Expected to complete the PSI field along with the host Patriots and the Big Red girls are University, Morgantown, John Marshall, Marietta, Tucker County, Wirt County, Williamstown and Parkersburg Catholic.

Although coach Fox would like to win the Patriots’ second meet in a row, he noted that “Marietta seems to be the top team; they were tough last year at the Erickson and were a pretty good team.

“You’ll see some distance runners,” said Fox, singling out Amelia Paladino of University. “She can run. I’m just glad my boys team isn’t running against her. I’m amazed at what she can do.”