Mar. 9, 2023 -- Congratulations are in order for the Heights High boys’ track and field team who placed second overall at the OATCCC Indoor Track State Championship on March 4, the best team performance in more than a decade.
Coach Scott McNulty has always taken the long view on his team’s success. With his first full year at Heights interrupted by Covid, he slowly built his team back up, always confident that the talent and speed existed inside this community.
“Two years ago, we got crushed at the Indoor State Championships,” he said of a disappointing showing in 2021. Then last year, two relay teams placed in the top 8, earning points and “making podium,” while alumnus Marius Coleman was the individual State Champion in the 400-meter dash.
But it was this year, 2023, when Heights High showed all that they’re capable of, placing second as a team, out of more than 50 Division 1 teams from across the state at Saturday’s OATCCC Indoor State Championship at Spire Institute.
The success was thanks to sprints, jumps and strong relay teams. The 4 x 200, made up of Sulé Lunda, 12, GioVaughni Lacy, 12, Henry Perrymond, 9, and Marquise Davis, 10, took second place overall, despite the fact that Lunda was a last-minute replacement for injured senior Antonio Gibson. “This was our fourth iteration of that relay team and the first time ever for Sulé,” said McNulty. “And he did it.”
Fellow senior Lacy had a stellar day, placing 6th in the 400-meter dash, 5th in the triple jump and anchoring two relay teams. “We went in to the Championship knowing that Gio had to score well,” said his coach. “And he absolutely handled himself and did just that.” Competing in four events over the course of one meet is never easy, as Lacy was still jumping while other runners were warming up for the 400-meter dash. But he earned points for his team in every event.
“What I hadn’t been counting on was what Marquise did for us,” said McNulty of sophomore Davis who earned four points when he placed 5th in the 60-meter dash. As the second youngest to qualify for the final round, his coach would have been happy with a 7th or 8th place finish. “He really opens up the door for us next year and the year after.”
Youth was also critical to the success of the 4 x 400 relay team, a race that is always the highlight of any track meet. Heights High did not disappoint, winning by nearly 15 meters and five seconds, a gap not frequently seen at such high levels of competition. With freshmen Jay’Vier Kerr and Perrymond running the first and third legs, rounded out by the experience and leadership of Lunda and Lacy, the team simply could not be caught. Their performance has landed them as the 18th fastest team in the entire nation.
McNulty is taking that long view and applying it to the girls’ team who qualified in four events this year, an increase over last year’s solo qualification. “The girls are about two years behind the boys in the evolution of their team,” he said, highlighting strong performances by sophomores Jane Mueller and Leila Evans. “I anticipate them showing up and scoring next year. And then being where the boys are today in two years.”
Practice for the outdoor season has just begun and the community is invited to cheer on the State Runners-Up at the Weingart Relays on Saturday, April 8.