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DC, Grafton highlight girls meet

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

As the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked girls teams in Class AA-A, Doddridge County and Grafton are sure to be the focal point when today's State Track and Field Meet begins.

The two teams have spent the majority of the season atop the polls and are likely to go down to the wire in this weekend's event. However, nearly every event is deep with local participants, including the discus in Class AA-A where Bridgeport's Theresa Melko and Liberty's Allison Ritz are set to face off for one last time.

Ritz finished second last season, but is seeded just behind Melko at No. 5.

"Every time the two of them go up against each other, they seem to bring out each other's best," Liberty girls coach Phil Cunningham said. "Allison threw OK last week, but she didn't throw up to her potential.

"I really look for she and Theresa to do really well. Good competition will bring that out in them."

Bridgeport is coming off impressive performances late in the season. The Indians were a close second to Grafton in the Big 10 championship, finished third in their class at the Gazette Relays and were third in the Region 2 championship. Bridgeport qualified four of its five relay teams, and with Jamie Bragg in the 100 meters and Lori Paul in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles, the Indians could make a major impact.

Sarah Bullough joins Melko and Ritz in the discus, while Melko and Lacey Hill will both compete in the shot put. Bridgeport also qualified Brandy Sypolt in the high jump, Stephanie Sellas in the long jump and Janette Schuessler in the pole vault.

"I'm pretty pleased with how this group has done," Bridgeport coach Jim Dawson said. "Almost every kid we had down there last year is back and now they're a year older. They all know what they're up against and what they have to do.

"I think Lacey can finish in the top three in the shot and I think Theresa and Sarah can do very well. Brandy Sypolt could wind up in the top three if she can clear 5-2. Our 4x100 team is ranked third and the shuttles team is fourth."

In the 100, Liberty's Maura Nelan will join Bragg in the field. Nelan enters after winning the Region 2 title with a qualifying time of 13.44 -- a time which has her seeded sixth.

"We just want to make sure she has a good controlled race (today) so she can get in the finals on Saturday," Cunningham said. "She's had some pretty good workouts this week and feels ready to go.

"I told her just to go down there and give it everything she had and see what happens."

Robert C. Byrd's Stephanie Hatfield is seeded fifth in the 3,200, while teammate Liann Gottschling qualified for the 300 hurdles. Eagles freshman Britney Amodio qualified in the high jump at 4-10 and the pole vault.

However, Amodio has cleared 5-2 this season.

Doddridge County, which finished fourth last year, is led by it's relay teams which qualified in all five events. The Bulldogs 4x800 and shuttle hurdle teams hold the top seedings, while its 4x400 team is seeded second.

In the pole vault, Doddridge County owns three of the top five seedings. Lisa Davis' mark of 9-6 is the top seed in Class AA-A. Teammates Karen Kellar and Nicole White are ranked third and fifth, respectively. Kelley Moran has the top time in the 400 at 1:01.14, and teammate Chayna Johnson qualified at 1:02.74. Moran's time of 2:26.4 in the 800 is the third-seeded time.

Lori Coffman qualified in the 100 hurdles for Doddridge County, while Johnson and Jordan Walker are seeded No. 2 and No. 8 in the 300 hurdles. The Bulldogs' Kate Clark and Judi Rose will compete in the discus, while Blaine Spencer and Lori Trent are both in the high jump to give Doddridge an advantage in the field events. Tiffany Southern qualified in the high jump to round out the individual qualifiers for the Bulldogs.

For Grafton, distance runners Sherri Flohr, Heather McDaniel and Megan Docherty and Ginny Keener will be key for the Bearcats to make a run at Doddridge County.

Flohr is seeded No. 1 in the 800 with a time of 2:22.3 and second in the 1,600 (5:25.3) and 3.200 (11:47.4). McDaniel's time of 11:45.5 is tops in the 3,200 and is seeded third behind Flohr, while Docherty is third in the 800.

Keener is No. 3 in the 300 hurdles (49.24) and second in the high jump (5-0). Teammate Angela Lowe will also compete in the high jump and the pole vault. Cara Bryan will compete in the 400 for the Bearcats, while Samantha Cathell is in the shot put. The Bearcats will also be represented in the 4x400, 4x800 and shuttle hurdles.

Others in the Class AAA field include Philip Barbour's Julie Zickefoose (1,600), Buckhannon-Upshur's Deidre Painter (200), Samantha Bennett (pole vault) and Jade Rusmissel, Elkins' Ashley Ferguson (100), Zaia Wharton (400, 800 and 300 hurdles), Ryann Metheny (1,600 and 3,200), Valerie Hart (long jump), Manda Pawelczyk (long jump) and Jamie Doerr (high jump).

Buckhannon-Upshur also has the top-ranked 4x400 relay team (4:11.42) and the No. 3 4x800 team. Elkins' qualified its 4x100 relay team, 4x400 team and its 4x800 team.

In the Class AA-A field, Ritchie County's Missy Spangler qualified in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs. Teammate Alana Dorfman qualified in the 300 hurdles, while Lucinda Huffman is seeded No. 1 in the discus (115-4) and third in the shot put. The Rebel's Jennifer Shiflet qualified in the long jump. Ritchie County's 4x100 team is seeded No. 4.

Other's qualifying in Class AA-A include Gilmer County's Cate Powell (200), Lindsay Chambers (1,600) and Amy Skinner (100 hurdles).

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444. Sports writer Shawn Yonker comtributed to this story.

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