Meanwhile, Casingal, another relay member, also makes her name in the field events.
"Her pole vaulting is getting better and she got an 8-6 (at Gazette Relays), which is her personal best," Welch said of Casingal, "so she's improving very well in the pole vault. That was very, very good to see."
Casingal entered the weekend meet ranked second in the state to Williamstown's Lincoln Postlewaite (10 feet, 1 inch). Casingal placed sixth at last year's state meet.
Also, in field events, junior Gina Marks won the shot put at Gazette Relays with a throw of 30 feet, three inches. Marks ranked seventh in the state in shot entering the weekend's meet. Last year, Marks finished fifth at the state meet.
Junior distance runner Annie Crockett also returns with state meet experience after placing seventh in the 3200 and 10th in the 1600 last season.
For Keener, a freshman, she will be looking to make her first appearance at the state championships this year.
Keener, ranked eighth in the 1600 for Class A, beat her personal record by 18 seconds in winning the event at Gazette Relays. Additionally, Keener claimed fourth place in the 800.
"She really stepped up," Welch said of Keener's effort.
He added the Irish will need such strong contributions to advance from Class A Region 4 that features back-to-back defending champion Williamstown and perennial power Doddridge County.
"Our region is the strongest region," he said.
With a young roster, the titles may take some time to achieve, but Catholic's talented corps should soon contend among the state's best, and that reign could last for years to come.
The Irish will next compete the Lions Club Invitational, hosted by Oak Hill, on Friday.