From the first field event to the 4x400 relay across all seven schools competing, the 2011 Southeastern Ohio Athletic League track meet at Chillicothe on Saturday is filled with one of the best fields in years.
There's not just one team fighting for the SEOAL title.
There's literally seven.
"On the boys' side there's some pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, I can't say pretty enough, strong teams," said Marietta boys' track coach B.J. Mayer.
Of course, there does happen to be a few favorites out of the seven.
In boys competition there are four stallions trying to get ahead of the pack in the Tigers, Chillicothe Cavaliers, Logan Chieftains and Gallia Academy Blue Devils.
On the girls side, Marietta, Chillicothe and the Gallia Academy Blue Angels all figure to be at the top of the pack in team standings.
But just because those squads are expected to be at the top of the field, doesn't mean for certain that they will be. Nor does it mean that one of the other schools can't jump in as a surprise, like Animal Kingdom did in the Kentucky Derby.
"The field is as strong as it's been in a while. You'll have to run under 11 seconds to win the 100. You'll have to run under 23 seconds to win the 200, maybe down close to 22-flat," said Warren boys' track coach Al Riffey.
No matter who comes out on top, the one factor that guarantees to be part of deciding the outcome isn't who wins each event.
It's who can score in more events and multiple events.
"As much as we like to have a lot of first places, it isn't always the first places. It's being able to place two people in each event. The more people we can double up, that's going to be our key," said Marietta girls' track coach Mollie Schramm.
Multiple placers in each event is a necessity because every school coming to compete in Chillicothe has some standout athletes that figure to split up the first place finishes.
Chillicothe has standout Megan Osborne, a state qualifier in the 100, 200 and 400, while Gallia Academy has distance standout Peyton Adkins.
Warren features thrower Emma Ryan and Marietta has pole vaulter Paige Grosel.
All are figured to be at the top of their respective events. So, split up the points for first place there and the meet comes down, not to who finishes first, but who finishes most.
"This is a mental meet. Your school's reputation is on the line. The All-Sports Trophy is on the line, so it's real important to be mentally prepared this week," Schramm said.
Marietta has won the league meet two out of the last three years, including a year ago, while Gallia Academy claimed the SEOAL title in 2009.
Next spring Marietta will be competing as a member of the East Central Ohio League, so Saturday will be the final time the girls in orange and black compete in the SEOAL championship.
"This is our last year in the SEOAL and we definitely want to go out with a bang," Schramm said.
The girls competition isn't the only one expected to have a bunch of kids battling for the top spot.
Logan has Coy Blair in the shot put while Gallia Academy has an outstanding sprinter in the form of Austin Wilson. Chillicothe has Isaac Beverly, another outstanding sprinter, as well.
Add in Marietta's Wes Riley in the pole vault and high jump along with Warren's Wes Cochran in the distance races and once again top place finishes are expected to be hard to come by.
"If we can maintain third places here and there, snag a first place here and there, at the end of the day we'll just see where we stand," Mayer said.
Perhaps the most anticipated event of the meet is boys' 4x800 relay where there could conceivably be four teams run under 8:10, Riffey said.
Marietta's 4x800 team of Alex Wesel, Mitchell Grose, Sam Garrison and Dylan Schafer, which won at last Saturday's Jesse Owens Classic, has been beaten just once all year, by Warren, but it's tough to count out Gallia Academy.
Chillicothe has been coasting along in the event as well, simply running whatever the leader runs.
Depth figures to be the key on both sides for whatever team hopes to walk away from Chillicothe with the league title. It'll definitely take depth, as well as being prepared for Saturday's meet and being friendly with Lady Luck.
"A lot of times there's no telling which one of those (depth, luck and preparation) has the highest priority," Riffey said.
The SEOAL track meet gets started with field events at 10:30 a.m. while running semifinals are slated to get started at 11 a.m.
Along with the Lady Tigers team title last year, Logan won the boys team title while Gallia Academy was second.
Marietta was third, but is hoping for a better result in the final countdown.
"We want to go out strong. Those teams, I've learned a lot from coach Riffey and coach (Greg) Fraunfelter over the 11 years that I've done this. I don't really enjoy banging heads with them every meet, but I really enjoy taking little pieces of things I can learn from them," Mayer said.