NAVARRE, Ohio - It certainly didn't take long to pare down the locals in the Division III field just a week after the excitement of earning a trip to the coveted regional.
Competing during the course of two days at arguably the state's toughest small-school regional at Fairless High School, only nine area thinclads are left standing with the dream of capturing the Division III state title and earning All-Ohio accolades at the State Track and Field Championship, which gets under way next Friday morning at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University.
The final Division III field was set Friday under muggy conditions and three OVAC competitors became regional champions. The only area female to claim the top prize in the regional was talented St. John Central freshman Fallon Doyle.
Doyle ran the 1,600 meters exactly the way she had planned and used what's becoming her staple, a furious kick in the final 200 meters, to move from third place to the top spot with a time of 5:14.29.
''I am really excited and happy that I made it,'' Doyle said. ''I just wanted to lay back, chill out, let the race play out and then go at the end. I get to the 200-meter mark and I figure I'll just give it my all the rest of the way and see how it plays out.''
Doyle, who finished third in the state cross country meet last fall, was one of the few distance runners on the day who doubled. However, the heat and exertion of the 1,600 took its toll as she settled for seventh in the 3,200.
Martins Ferry, which has had a girls' season to remember, advanced just one competitor to the state meet. Junior middle distance Sunshine Wrenn used a strong kick in the final 200 meters to earn the fourth and final spot in the 800 with a time of 2:21.88
''I was really nervous before the race,'' Wrenn said. ''I thought I had a good chance to get fourth and I am so glad I got it. I actually expected the race to be even faster. I don't know if I'll place, but I am just glad to be going.''
Steubenville Catholic will send a pair of individuals to the state meet. Sophomore Monica Rigaud is heading to her first state meet as an individual as she finished second in the high hurdles in a time of 15.57.
On Wednesday, sophomore Moriah Vosteen advanced by virtue of a third-place finish in the high jump with a 5-foot, 4-inch leap.
Bridgeport's Cody Frey is making the trip to his first state meet and he'll do as a regional champion in the 300 intermediate hurdles. After battling several bumps and bruises during the years and coming up short each of his previous appearances in the regional, Frey used a strong race down the homestretch to not only qualify for state, but assure himself a solid lane for Friday's semifinal.
''I've been trying to get (to the state) for four years and to have done it feels great,'' Frey said. ''I know I usually have a good kick in the last 150 (meters) and the kid got out quick, so I just tried to stay close early and then turn it on.''
Frey skimmed all eight timbers in 39.23, which is a season-best time.
Shadyside's Jake Dull also qualified for his first state meet after coming up short several timesin past regionals. Dull will join Frey in the intermediate hurdle field after finishing third and posting a solid 40.22.
Bellaire's boys' program will be represented for the first time since 2006 thanks to the sprinting of senior speedster Juwaun Whetstone. Whetstone, who was seeded eighth after the semifinals Wednesday, turned it up a notch and earned the fourth and final spot in the 100 with a solid 11.14, which was two hundredths of a tick ahead of the fifth finisher.
Steubenville Catholic's Doug Maslowski continued his month-long eruption. He's a regional champion in the high hurdles after blazing through the finals with a time of 14.82.
Buckeye Trail sophomore Austin Carleton added to the regional title he won on Wednesday in the long jump with a height of 6-4 in the high jump.