The track and field state championship is nearly two months away, but a preview of some of the top talent in Class AAA will be on display at Robert C. Byrd High School today.
A 14-team meet will begin at 9 a.m. with several of the state's top returning performers from last season.
"We're real excited about this," Robert C. Byrd boys coach Bob Steele said. "We've got teams from as far as Parkersburg to Hampshire, so there's going to be some great talent. I don't think there will be a disappointing event. Every one of them should be extremely competitive."
One of the headliners is one of Steele's very own. Senior hurdler Tony Shade is the top returner in the 300 intermediate hurdles and has posted a time of 40.7 this season, just one-tenth of a second behind his best time last season. Shade has also posted a leap of 21-feet, 5-inches in the long jump -- tops so far and has posted a 14.65 in the 110 high hurdles where he's the No. 2 returner in the state.
"Tony's having a great season so far," Steele said. "It's conceivable he could take high-point at this meet. That would be huge."
His teammate, R.J. Coleman, is the top returner in the shot put and already has a throw of 50-11. The junior is also the top seed for the discus where he comes in with a season-best throw of 138-00.
Philip Barbour's Scott Mayle posted a time of 10.9 in the 100 meter dash last season, but Wheeling Park teammates Dino Cardinelli (11.18) and Clint Falduto (11.19) are the early favorites.
Last season, Mayle recorded a leap of 22-0.5 in the long jump -- the top returning effort this season, and has gone 18-10 this season. University's Stephen Hiser is the favorite in the 1,600 (4:40.0).
Headlining the girls are Hampshire twins, Susan and Jennifer Davis. The two are seeded No. 1 and No. 2 in the 3,200 meter run. Susan is also the No. 3 returner in the 1,600 (5:16.81), while Jennifer is No. 1 in the 400 meter (58.19).
In the high jump, an interesting battle should take place between Robert C. Byrd's Britney Amodio and Parkersburg's Roxanne Ward. Ward's jump of 5-6 made her the returning favorite, while Amodio cleared 5-4. Ward is also a threat in the long jump.
"This could be the biggest meet that's been in Clarksburg for a while," Steele said. "We've been doing steady work for a long time getting everything together for it, and I'm doing some computer work.
"It should be an entertaining meet. There's going to be a lot of good teams and a lot of good individual performers."
Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at email@example.com