Crusaders take OVAC track title

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – Indian Creek senior Whitney Martin sat at midfield of the St. Clairsville football field and was asked if she had won the 200.

“If I did, it’s only because I fell,” she said with a laugh more than a few times.

One really long lightning delay later, the Steubenville Catholic Central girls team found that same place in the middle of the field to accept their trophy, showcasing being the Class 3A champions at the annual OVAC Cal Giffin OVAC Track and Field Championships.

“This just shows the testament and the hard work of the girls,” said Crusaders head coach Rob Copeland. “They did a great job today. They overcame some stuff with the weather and the elements.

“Overall, I think we have kind of overachieved this year. Now, we have to look forward to improve some things, keep some things they way they are, and get ready for districts in two weeks.”

Catholic Central finished with 54 points to place seventh overall and outdistanced Fort Frye by 24 points.

The Crusaders’ quartet of Taylor Bednar, Monica Rigaud, Jordan Wood and Kara Kakascik won the 4×400 in 4:18.10, holding off Martins Ferry.

Individually, Central had a pair of second-place finishes.

Moriah Vosteen was the runner-up again in the high jump at 5-2 and Kacascik posted a best of 59.62 in the 400.

Earlier in the day, Rigaud was third in the 100 hurdles in 15.53.

Indian Creek’s Martin captured the the 200 to cap a really good afternoon.

Her 26.48 clocking beat Parkersburg South’s Kasey Williams by .02.

It was the second time that Martin nipped Williams at the wire. She did the same in the 100 by .01, as she clocked a 12.61.

Martin also anchored the 4×100 relay team (52.89) to finish sixth and the 4×200 relay (1:52.14) to take ninth.

Pretty solid afternoon for an athlete who is running track for the first time since eighth grade.

“At first, I decided to come out for track because I am going to Bethany to play volleyball and I thought it would be good conditioning, but I really like it a lot,” she admitted. “

According to, Martin’s sprint times put her into the top 10 in the state in Division II of the times that have been reported.

She did not run track the past three seasons due to travel volleyball.

“I’m very surprised at what I am doing because I don’t even like running,” she said. “It’s really an honor to be able to come out and win.

“I was not expecting to win. Kasey is really fast. She was my biggest competition today. I didn’t expect to beat her, but I’m glad I did.

“This meet is so hard because there is not a lot of time to rest. Everything’s back to back.”

Steubenville Big Red’s Ja’Quan Lavendar raced through the 400, winning in 49.77. His eclipsing of the 50-second barrier puts him at the top of the list in the state in Division II, for times that have been turned in.

He’s come a long way in a little less than a year.

Lavendar was injured during the 400 preliminaries at the state meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

“It’s nothing but God who has guided me back to this,” he said. “My faith in God, working each day in the weight room and being on the track every day has put me in this position. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get the workout in.

“Regardless of what it is, I just thank God for another opportunity.”

Lavendar went into the state meet last season with a qualifying time of 50.81.

“It was a tough way to finish the season,” he admitted. “I plan on taking it this year.”

Lavendar’s success can also be tracked to his success and hard work during the indoor season.

“It has helped me a lot,” he said. “It kept me in shape and I say D1 and D2 competition at each meet. It pushed me and drove me harder every day.

“Every meet I PR’d. Running indoors really helped me a lot.”

He later came back in a tough double to place third in the 200 in 23.34.

“I’m glad I’m out here,” he said. “I thank God, once again.

“I’ll just keep pushing to Jesse Owens and see if I can win the big picture.”

Indian Creek’s Max Lewis also vaulted himself to the top of the heap in the Division II 800 with his winning mark of 1:58.92, to beat Anthony Laurita of Morgantown by almost three seconds.

“I was really happy with what I did last year,” said Lewis, who qualified for the state meet at 1:58.26 and finished 12th in 1:58.48. “I wanted to come back this year and top what I did last year. It really motivated me to think that I can be one of the best runners in the state.

“My goal is to get to the state meet and place near the top.

“Up until now, it’s been about getting better each race. Now, my goal is to see how much lower I can get.

“I have a watch and I always check my 200 and 400 splits. And, from there, the second lap is what I have left. I feel I have what it takes to finish. Now, what I need is a little bit more strength so I can maybe push each 200 a little bit more to get a few seconds off the time.”

Weir High’s JoJo Rice, Clarence Bennett, Dalante Tucker and Cole Slates placed third in the 4×100 in 44.29, following Martins Ferry (44.04) and Cambridge (44.19).

The Red Riders’ Rice, Bennett, Slates and Alex Hannah took sixth in the 4×200 in 1:32.82.

Slates placed second in the 400 (51.16) and Rice third in the 100 (11.29).

“This is such a tough meet with the short rest times between races,” said Slates. “This is really good competition for us.”

Weir High will take part in the West Virginia Class AA Section 1 regional meet Thursday at Ritchie County High school.

“We’re looking forward to the meet,” said Bennett. “This was a good day for us.”

The Red Riders are the defending state champs in the 4×100 and 4×200. Slates is the defending champ in the 200 and Rice placed second in the 100.

“This meet really helps us get ready for regionals and states,” said Bennett. “There are some great teams from Ohio here that we don’t always get to run against. I love this meet.

“When the pressure is on, I think that’s when we run our best.”

The Oak Glen girls 4×800 relay team of Christen Mangano, Alex Arnott, Felicity Nolder and Kelsey Chambers placed second in a season-best 9:59.51. According to, the Golden Bears are the only Class AA team to break the 10-minute barrier.

Chambers had a brutal triple as she took third in the 1600 (5:17.84, best in Class AA) and the 800 (2:26.13) and sixth in the 3200 (12:04.25) to lead the Golden Bears to second place in the OVAC Class 4A standings.

Brooke’s Krista Brady, Calandra Olenick, Kristin Brady and Mekenzie DeFranco took second in the shuttles in 1:07.84, its best time of the season.

Indian Creek’s Kristen Shimko took second in the discus in 116-1.

Big Red’s Elise Watts, Kira Newburn, Knisha Sanders and Lysiah Rice finished third in the 4×200 9n 1:48.68.

Steubenville’s Ari Goldsmith set a personal record with his second-place discus heave of 154-0.

Central’s foursome of Logan Hunt, Isaac Sanford, Mike Crosby and Anthony Lee finished second in the 4×800 in a season-best 8:17.76, which puts them third in the state in Division III.

Big Red’s Joey Nodianos took third in the 110 hurdles in 15.75.

Oak Glen’s Cody Tropeck, Chris Burnham, Chris Bailey and David Campbell finished third in the 4×400 in 3:40.77.