WHEELING - If Wheeling Park's boys' track team was looking for a way to top last weekend's Ohio Valley Athletic Conference overall title, Coach Chris Daugherty's squad had no trouble finding one Thursday night.
Now if the Patriots can only go one better than their dominating performance in the West Virginia Class AAA Region One championships, they may just be bringing home a state championship trophy from Charleston next Saturday.
Park captured individual titles in 12 of the 18 events contested, including all five relays, and have qualified a minimum of 18 athletes for the state championship meet.
Wheeling Park’s Michael Mauck, left, and University’s Daniel Nowak prepare to start the 3,200-meter relay Thursday evening at Wheeling Park.
Photo by Rick Thorp
The Patriots finished with a whopping 189 points, or 111 more than runner-up Fairmont Senior, which came in with 78. Morgantown was third, Preston fourth and John Marshall fifth.
Not only did Daugherty's team win 12 events, it received two very important second-place finishes also. Those coming from University of Southern California recruit Errin Baynes, who is the defending state champion in the high jump and long jump, but has been out most of this season with a knee injury.
Wheeling Park's two double-winners on the night were senior D.C. Banks, who captured the 300-intermediate hurdles in 41.56 and also won the long jump at 20-feet, 2.50-inches, just a half of an inch better than Baynes.
Meanwhile, senior Dewanya Neal swept the weight events, winning the shot put at 48-6.50 and the discus at 146-8.
Baynes was also second in his specialty, the high jump, with a 6-2 effort, 2 inches shorter than teammate, and winner, Kody Geisel.
The Patriots' other individual champions included sophomore Bryce Ingram in the 100 (11.19) and junior Zach Witsberger in the 800 (2:04.37).
Wheeling Park also received 50 big points from the five relay events with Markeith O'Neal and Vondel Bell both taking part in a trio of baton-passing winners and Ingram, Brandon Porter and Banks on a pair.
The Polar Bears were second with eight qualifiers while John Marshall has five and Brooke a pair.
Overall, the top three finishers in each event have already qualified for next weekend's state championships while the top four times, distances and heights throughout the state will also advance.
Just as with the boys' meet, Morgantown's girls backed up their OVAC Class 5A title from a week ago as Coach Steven Blinko's squad scored 141.5 points to overtake Wheeling Park (114), while University was third, Fairmont Senior fourth and Brooke fifth.
The Mohigans have already qualified 14 for Charleston, while racking up seven champions Thursday, while the Patriots are right behind with 13 qualifiers.
There were a total of four double winners on the night, including a pair from the Northern Panhandle. Brooke senior Ali Crawford swept the hurdles events, winning the 100 highs in 15.38 and the 300 lows in 49.18, while John Marshall senior Alexis Montes put the shot 37-9.5 and twirled the discus 120-11 to easily win both events.
Morgantown junior Natasha Trott ran to victory in the 100 (12.45) and 200 (26.38) while Fairmont Senior's Alyssa Scherich captured the 400 (58.79) and 800 (2:21.68) gold medals.
The Bruins' Rachel Richard was also the champion in the long jump with a 16-2.25 effort.
Wheeling Park's foursome of Ashley Grove, Nakysha McGhee, RaKedra Webb and Natasha Whitaker won the 800 relay in 1:46.42 while the shuttle squad of Aspen Matlock, Casey Dolan, Emma Dolan and Stacy Chaplin edged Fairmont Senior to win in 1:08.21.
John Marshall's Erica Haught, Mallory Ball, Maria Tennant and Ashley Haught teamed for victory in the 1,600 sprint relay.
The Monarchs have qualified five as of Thursday night while Brooke has four.