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After more than a year’s absence, one of the state’s biggest regular season track meets is set to begin a three-day run Thursday afternoon at University of Charleston Stadium.

The Tudor’s Biscuit World Charleston Relays (formerly the Gazette-Mail Relays) is expected to bring more than 40 teams to the state capital Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The meet was canceled last year due to COVID-19.

The event, annually considered a dry run for the state meet at UC Stadium (which is June 10-12 this season), will be spread over three days because of continued COVID concerns, with the Class AA meet beginning at 3 p.m. Thursday, the AAA meet at 3 p.m. Friday and the Class A meet at 9 a.m. Saturday.

A total of 22 teams included in the most recent state power rankings are scheduled to compete, including a pair of No. 1 teams in Winfield’s girls (Class AA) and Doddridge County’s boys (Class A). Three No. 2 teams are also in the mix this weekend — Parkersburg’s boys (AAA), Winfield’s boys (AA) and Doddridge’s girls (A).

Other ranked Kanawha Valley teams include South Charleston boys (10th AAA), Hurricane girls (fourth AAA), George Washington girls (ninth AAA), Poca boys (10th AA), Sissonville girls (eighth AA) and Charleston Catholic girls (fourth A).

Some of West Virginia’s remaining power teams are competing in other meets around the state this weekend such as the Dick Dei Classic in Wheeling, the Ritchie COVID Classic Invitational at Ritchie County and the Rush Invitational at Clay-Battelle.

Winfield’s girls feature sprinter Allie Germann, who holds the state’s top marks in four events (100-, 200-, 400-meter dashes, long jump), distance runner Rachael Withrow and pole vaulter Dianna Goodman, who last week soared 12 feet, 5 inches — the highest any girl has gone in any class in state history.

The Doddridge boys have a pair of athletes with the state’s best marks, according to RunWV — pole vaulter Reese Burnside (15 feet) and 200 sprinter Leo Stinespring (23.38), as well as the top-ranked 4x100 and 4x00 relays.

Parkersburg’s boys rely on hurdler Aaron Kupfner, distance runner Keegan Barnette and weight toss tandem of Justin Waybright and Charlie Bauman. Winfield’s boys are led by distance ace Matthew Scheneberg and hurdler Shaun Webb. The Doddridge girls have Lexie Lamb, who owns the state’s best times in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 in the girls A division.

Making the three-hour-plus trip to UC Stadium from Grant County is Bridgett Knapp of Union, whose 5-4 high jump leads all Class A competitors and is tied for the best in any class in the state. Knapp is also a contender in the long jump and high hurdles on Saturday.

Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.

Preps Sports Reporter