By SETH STASKEY
For the News-Register
ATHENS - There's something about the southeast part of Ohio which is bringing out the best in the St. Clairsville Red Devils.
Just a little more than two months removed from the Red Devils' boys' basketball team claiming the Division II regional title at Ohio University's Convo, the boys' track team traveled a few miles further north to The Plains High School and captured the school's first boys' regional track and field championship, using a sixth-place finish in the 4x4 to edge out hard-charging Thornville Sheridan.
Along with the Red Devils' title, a solid contingent of area thinclads are making preparations for Friday's Division II state track and field championship at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus after the second day of the regional wrapped up under hot and muggy conditions.
The Red Devils qualified to the state meet in six events en route to their title.
"We knew, after Thursday, that we had the potential to score some points because we had qualified well and were in every event, on the track, except the hurdles," St. Clairsville coach Ben Frye said. "We were worried about Sheridan, obviously, because we knew they had a quality team."
Sheridan actually defeated St. C. head-to-head in early April at the Porterfield Invitational on the Red Devils' track.
"We scored some points on the high end, which is always important when you're in a bigger meet," Frye said. "We've battled a lot of injuries this season and we're finally getting people mended and I guess there's no better time for that."
The Red Devils won just one event. The team of Alex Young, Jerrid Marhefka, Michael Ferns and Jaylon Brown ran a season best time of 42.96.
Brown, meanwhile, is headed back to his second straight state meet in both the 100 and 200 as an individual. He was second in the 100 with a time of 11.12. He then finished third in the 200 with a 22.63.
Brown's fourth event is the 4x200. The Red Devils' foursome posted a 1:32.00 to finish fourth and earn the final ticket from this regional.
In the distance races, senior Alex Thornburg will put the Red Devils' uniform on one more time. He'll run in the 1600 at the state meet after finishing second in 4:30.81.
Junior talent Drake Walker continued his impressive campaign in the 800. He ran a personal-best time of 1:57.51, which was good enough for fourth place.
Buckeye Local will send an individual in two events as well as its 4x100 team.
The Panthers will be led by senior speedster Jordan Piergallini. The 100 and 200 ace claimed both gold medals during the afternoon en route to earning his first-ever trip to the state meet.
"To be going to the state is really exciting," Piergallini said.
"This entire season has been the result of my preparation in the weightroom, blocks and everything. I've really worked hard to get to this point. I am looking forward to getting out there (to Columbus) and see how that goes."
In the 100, Piergallini overcame a bad start out of the blocks to race past the field and post a blistering 10.96. He came back a short time later and blasted a season-best 22.05.
"I don't know what it is, but I always seem to get out of the blocks bad," Piergallini said. "When I get out well, though, it shows."
However, it was the 4x1 that Piergallini was most pleased with after he anchored the Panthers to a 43.58 clocking.
Martins Ferry will take a pair of boys to the state meet.
Senior Richie Padyjasek finished second in the 110M high hurdles with a time of 15.02.
He'll be joined by junior strongman Sean McGee who grabbed the fourth and final spot in the shot put.
Harrison Central's boys will send its 4x400. The Huskies raced past Steubenville for the silver medal in a time of 3:27.98.
Steubenville, which won the last two regional titles, qualified only its 4x400 team. Big Red posted a solid 3:28.15 to finish third. Big Red's 4x200 team came in with the top mark in the race, but put the baton on the ground and finished eighth.
Edison's lone male entrant will be Kyle Minger in the 400. He edged out St. C.'s Cole Antolak for the final spot with a 50.71.
On the girls' side, Steubenville had a very strong day of qualifying en route to finishing third behind West Holmes and John Glenn for the team hardware.
Coach Jason Kernahan's Big Red squad, which captured the OVAC 4A title earlier this month, was fueled by a victory in the 4x200 relay. The team of Toschel Demus, Queen Elder, Paige Phillips and Nyasha Jones posted a blistering 1:45.36.
Jasmine Ware earned a spot in the 100 field. She finished second with a 12.77.
Elder and Phillips both punched a ticket to the state 400 after they finished second and third, respectively. They ran times of 59.18 and 59.71.
Steubenville's 4x100 team also earned the right to compete thanks to a fourth-place finish in a time of 50.61.
St. Clairsville qualified a trio of girls in two events.
Juniors Amy Castle and Julianna Madzia will both compete in their first outdoor track state championship meets. Castle, who was edged out of a spot in the 1600, came back with a purpose in the 3200.
After battling a nagging injury for much of the past several weeks, Castle finished second with a bronze medal in a time of 11:52.16.
Madzia, meanwhile, elected to run the 3200 only and finished fourth in 12:01.84.
During Thursday's action, junior standout Alyssa Robinson qualified with a victory in the shot put.
Edison's Ashley Borsch was fourth in the 300 meter hurdles to get to her first state track meet. She ran a 47.81. Katelyn Pollock had qualified on Thursday in the long jump.
The Wildcats also qualified in the 4x1 thanks to a bronze medal worthy time of 50.56.
Union Local's Arika Kemp qualified by finishing fourth in the pole vault.