Martins Ferry leads locals at Bellaire Relays

The Bellaire Relays has long been one of the most anticipated track meets of the season.

For the 59th consecutive year, the event was held on the final Saturday in April, as 15 schools took part in the event under ideal conditions at sun-splashed Nelson Field.

One of the perennial powers of the event once again headed back to suburban Columbus with the top trophy. Gahanna Lincoln flashed its depth and speed over and over again en route to 145 points, which was 64 better than runner-up Dayton Dunbar.

Gahanna was led by senior speedster Riak Reese, who posted a sprint sweep, winning the 100 (10.8), 200 (22.2) and 400 (49.9).

On top of Reese’s performance, the Lions won only two other events.

The top finishing OVAC school was Martins Ferry, which turned in a solid performance. The Purple Riders, who will be one of the teams to watch in a seemingly wide open Class 4A boys race at the OVAC meet, finished with 60 points.

Coach Rich Materkoski’s Riders set the tone for a strong performance once again with an impressive morning of field events.

Senior strongman Sean McGee prevailed once again in the shot put. He posted a mark of 54-feet to win the event and then twirled the discus to a mark of 150-feet, which was good enough for silver. All told, his 18 points earned him a piece of the high-point field award.

Senior Cody Schau continued to improve and prevail in the high jump. After winning the Buckeye 8 title on Tuesday, Schau soared over 6-ft-3 to capture his specialty once again.

The Purple Riders’ talented sprint relay teams also turned in solid efforts. The all underclass squad of Jack Fitch, Brian Styles, Hunter Hill and Andrew Watts posted a 44.7 to win the 400 relay.

The same foursome posted a 1:32.9 and finished second to only Steubenville in the 4×2.

Barnesville got into the winning act when West Liberty bound senior Jacob Anderson continued to impress in the 300 intermediate hurdles. He skimmed eight hurdles in 40.4 to capture his specialty.

The aforementioned Big Red 800 relay team, which is comprised of frosh Matt Sherrell, Perrier Coleman, JaQuan Lavender and Robert Hayden, passed the baton to a time of 1:32.7 to prevail.

Lavender ran a 50.1 to finish second in the 400 meter dash.

Buckeye Trail’s Nate Huber posted the first victory of the day when he soared over 11-ft-6 to claim the pole vault title. Junior Austin Carleton, a state runnerup in the long jump, finished second in both the long and high jumps.

East Liverpool had a strong showing. It was started by a victory by Zack English in the long jump. He marked the sand at 21-ft-1.

Senior distance ace Nate Boyer swept the 1600 and 3200 meter runs in solid times of 4:34.1 and 10:00.5, respectively.

St. John Central’s high scorer for the day was senior Corey Leasure, who was second in the 1600 meter run in a time of 4:38.0.

Staskey can be reached at