WHEELING - The 36th Annual Dick Dei Track Classic will be held today at Wheeling Park High School Track, beginning at 9 a.m. with most track finals slated to start about 1:15 p.m.
Admission for the event is $5 for adults and $3 for students. It is being co-sponsored by the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company and Wheeling Park High School.
The meet, which has been exclusively a boys' meet, will now, for the first time, include girls. The meet is named in horning the late Coach/Administrator C.R. "Dick" Dei, who was the driving force behind the formation of this event.
Dei was the head track coach at Wheeling High before being named as the first boys' track coach for at Wheeling Park High School when the school opened in 1976.
His assistant coach, Carl Bowman, came on board at the same time and the twosome coached together from 1976 until they both resigned at the end of the 1990 school year. Dei went on to become an assistant principal until his retirement, but both Bowman and Dei took over the girls' program in the early 1980s.
Dei's teams won several OVAC 4A and Region One 3A Boys titles. At one point his team had accrued 10 straight OVAC 4A boys' championships and 24 straight Region One 3A boys' titles. The boys' teams were state champs in 1978, 1980, and 1988, and runner-ups in 1979.
The coaching staff from the early 80s through 1990 included Dei, Bowman, Ken Steiner, Dianna Vargo (now superintendent of Ohio County Schools) and Bernie Dolan (now assistant superintendent of Ohio County Schools).
Dei was primarily responsible for getting the lights and poles, as well as the initial building and the restrooms at the track. He also had a hand in the construction of the current locker rooms and was always getting volunteers to work at the track and even persuaded then Assistant Superintendant Frank Dumas to come one Saturday in his work clothes and boots to assist with his "projects".
James Donaldson is the honorary referee. He started working track meets in 1967 at the old Wheeling High School under coach Sam Sereanna.
Jim, as he is known to his friends, worked track meets at other school throughout the years including middle school events. He started helping with Wheeling Park Meets in 1982 and has worked the Dick Dei Classic/Domino-Pepsi Classic since its inception in 2004 and has not missed this event.
Wheeling Park, John Marshall, St. John boys, and Brooke are local teams participating.