WILLIAMSTOWN - The 23rd annual Fenton Relays - set for tonight at the Jack Jones Track and Field Facility - will witness a 10-team field with a distinctive local flavor.
Joining host Williamstown will be Parkersburg High, Parkersburg South, Wirt County, Fort Frye, Belpre, St. Marys, Marietta, Doddridge County and Preston. Williamstown girls coach Zach Hall said others also may participate, including Morgantown.
Whoever shows up will be looking to end the two-year reign of Marietta, which captured the overall title in both 2010 and 2011. Williamstown has won the overall title just one time, in 2009, but given the strength of the Yellowjackets girls program, no one is counting out the home team this year.
Hall believes the three large schools - Marietta, Parkersburg and Parkersburg South - are in the running along with Doddridge County and Williamstown.
The meet will follow a relay format with all running events relays and all field events taking the top three finishers from each school and combining their efforts for a team total.
Action gets under way at 4 p.m.; with field events. The 4 by 1600 will be contested at 4:15 p.m. Williamstown will conduct its senior night during the evening break with competition resuming at 7:30 p.m.
The Williamstown girls team, the defending Class A state champions, are both deep and talented. A list of the top Class A track performances in West Virginia this spring reveals that all five Yellowjacket relay teams are No. 1, each by a comfortable margin over its closest competition.
Plus, Williamstown also has the top individual performance in five other events. To illustrate the depth of the Yellowjackets, look at the 200 meter dash. Andrea Chidester has the fastst time in the state, while Ashley Chidester is third and Madelin Gardner is fifth. All three are sophomores. Williamstown is 1-2 in two events - the 110 high hurdles where senior Kylie Hamer has the state's best Class A time and junior Lincoln Postlewaite is second, and the pole vault, where both senior Liz Flowers and Postlewaite have cleared 9-6.
In only three events do the Williamstown girls not have one of the top five Class A performances in the state this spring.
While the small schools such as Williamstown, Doddridge County and St. Marys don't normally have the population numbers to compete against the likes of the bigger schools, they are capable of doing just that this year as the three LKC representatives represent the cream of the state's small school crop.
Parkersburg South has won the overall championship more times than any other school - seven -although the Patriots last title came in 2005. Parkersburg High has won the meet six times, the last time in 2004.
The oldest meet records still on the books took place in 1995.