Regardless of his team's outcomes, Grafton girls track coach Paul Martin knows Doddridge County is still the team everyone is chasing.
The Bulldogs are the defending Class AA-A champs, holding off the Bearcats by 19 points in last season's state championship. The two teams met Monday at Robert C. Byrd in a six-team meet marking the first of four meets they will face each other head-to-head.
Doddridge defeated the Bearcat girls 196-153.
But don't think either team is showing much, yet.
"I really don't think (Monday) is a good indication, and Saturday (at the Gilmer County Invitational) won't, either," Grafton coach Paul Martin said. "The SAT tests are Saturday. We're not going to show our full hand, and (Doddridge County coach Craig) Kellar isn't either.
"Regardless of what happens in any of those meets, they're still the team to beat. It's a good workout in all honesty. They're the state champs."
The two teams are contrasting in terms of scoring their points. Doddridge County dominates the field events, especially the pole vault, where Monday the Bulldogs went 1-2-3. Grafton, meanwhile racks up impressive numbers in the distance events. The Bearcats are the two-time defending cross-country champions, and with runners Sherri Flohr, Heather McDaniel, Tia Lafferty, etc., Grafton puts a stranglehold on the 1,600 and 3,200 runs at events.
The two will also see each other at the Ritchie County Invitational and the Cline Stansberry Invitational in West Union.
"These two groups don't go out and do a whole lot of chatting together at these meets and aren't real friendly, but there is a respect," Martin said. "We respect Doddridge and I think they respect us. It's a pretty good relationship. It's not a real pal-around one, but it's one of respect."
Monday's meet was just the second time the Bearcats have competed this season.
"Right now, we're sort of looking to get kids at certain times," Martin said. "I think it appears that both teams are pretty close to each other.
"I liked what I saw. I think our relays are pretty good, our distance events are still our bread and butter. We're still trying to get totally healthy, but overall I liked what I saw."
Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org