YOUTH IS SERVED: It will be fun watching Ripley High girls track and field the next few seasons. After all, two freshmen alone scored 50 of Ripley’s 80 points on their own at the State Meet on Friday and Saturday in Charleston. Those 80 gave Ripley a runner-up finish in Class AAA – the best placing at the State Meet in school history.

Tori Starcher, a distance running dynamo, captured the 3200, 1600 and 800 in that order at UC Stadium. In addition, she anchored the winning 4x400 relay team, which not only claimed a state title but broke a record in the event which had stood for 27 years.

Starcher’s story goes beyond just winning but what she’s endured off the track. An injury wiped out her final season of competition at Ripley Middle and the first season of cross country at the high school level this past fall.

And there’s more.

Her family has been through a lot the past few months. Her grandfather, Jack Wiseman, suffered a stroke last fall and soon thereafter his loving wife, Judy, passed away.

Not only has she been running for her team and for herself but also those loving, doting grandparents she’s been blessed to have in her still young life.

It was a proud moment for the family over the weekend to see her rebound and close out a dynamite ninth grade season with such a statement performance at the State Meet.

And just think, the best is yet to come.

-Meanwhile, Allison Fields emerged as the state’s fastest competitor at the Class AAA level.

She won both the 100 and 200 meters in Charleston on Saturday

The ninth grader has untapped potential and is still learning the craft of the sprint game.

Fields also played a key part in two other state titles – running the first leg of the 4x400 state championship unit and anchoring the winning 4x200 team.

Seeing Fields in the limelight as one of the state’s top sprinters takes us back to the late ‘90s and the incredible sprint duo of Holly Clever and Amaris Easter, who later competed on the collegiate level for Robert Morris and Rice, respectively.

Clever is the only Ripley High track and field performer (boys or girls) to claim the prestigious High Point Trophy, which she did in Class AAA during the 1995 State Meet.

Starcher and Fields lead a strong cast of youngsters who will be returning and making their mark for the Lady Vikings in future seasons.

 OUT ON THE RIDGE: To say Ridge Dalrymple became one of the best track and field athletes Ripley’s boys program has had in recent years would be a vast understatement.

Dalrymple simply got better and better with each passing season until he hit state championship form in 2017.

The talented Dalrymple was a state champ not once, but twice over the weekend. He anchored the shuttle hurdle relay team Friday evening, which helped make Ripley High track history. The shuttle crew of Garrett Robertson, Sam Pierson, Steven Carte and Dalrymple became the first to ever win a relay at the State Meet.

He followed that up Saturday by taking the 300 meter hurdles. Later in the day he ran a tough race in the 110 hurdles and finished second.

It’s nice to see someone of Dalrymple’s talent moving on to compete in college at the next level. He will run at West Virginia Wesleyan.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: It was fun watching twin brothers Blake and Bryce Jarrell compete for Ravenswood at the State Meet.

The two scored 18 of Ravenswood’s 19 points in the Class A competition of the 3200 and 1600.

The future bodes well as Todd Murray continues his hard work to rebuild Red Devil track and field. Another sophomore, Austin Garrett, also scored at the State Meet in the 200 for the Devils.

Devil track also features several other youngsters who showed incredible improvement this season.

SHOELESS BRYCE: Talk about gutting it out, Bryce Jarrell did just that in the Class A 3200 meter run.

It’s tough enough running the eight-lap race with both shoes. Imagine doing it with just one.

That’s exactly what Jarrell did.

Early on in the race another runner stepped on the back of his foot, causing his shoe to come off.

He literally had two choices. Stop and put it back on or, just keep going. He chose to do without and went on to place third (Blake was fourth).

It was the sign of a gutty champ and why he and his brother will be heard from a lot the next couple of years.

YOUTH MOVEMENT: Ravenswood’s Devilette program had a pair of relay teams compete. It will be something for Coach Renee Swisher’s program to build upon.

One thing pleasing to the veteran coach this season was the fact that all 17 of those who came out this past season were there when the campaign concluded.

It was nice to see and has the future of the program looking bright.

THE RABBITT IS STILL RUNNING: Several State Meet records fell by the wayside over the weekend.

One, though, with a local tie is still standing strong.

The 100 meter dash mark in Class AA of 10.90 still belongs to Ravenswood’s Chris “Rabbit” Claudio.

The speedy Claudio set the mark in 1999 as a senior.

His senior year was one to remember. Besides his exploits in track and field, Claudio was a key member of a state playoff football team, a basketball team that reached the State Tournament and a baseball team which captured the state title.

MARATHON BROADCAST: This year’s State Meet was the fourth in which I have had the pleasure of doing play-by-play for the running events on the NFHS (National Federation of High School Sports) Network in conjunction with the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission.

It is a live-streaming broadcast and is subscription based.

Calling the State Meet is truly a challenge with so many events and athletes, but it has become a labor of love.

It was great having Ravenswood basketball coach Mick Price join me along with the talented Andrew Miller (the radio voice of Roane County athletics) on this year’s two-day broadcast (2-9 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday).

A pure coach, Price also has a knack for being a superb analyst.

It was also a delight having Bryan Canterbury stop by for an interview. Canterbury is the head coach of Ravenswood cross country, an assistant basketball coach and former track and field coach.

THE WISE-MAN: As mentioned earlier in this column, Jack Wiseman is the grandfather of Ripley standout Tori Starcher.

It was great to see Jack at the State Meet.

In his days as a coach at Ravenswood High School, where he guided basketball for many, many years, Jack took great pride in heading up Devil track and field.

The former Ripley High principal and current Jackson County Board of Education member continues to recover nicely from the stroke he suffered.

Keeping up with his granddaughter’s running career will no doubt help with the process.