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Heights Boys Track Team Wins Indoor Track State Championship
Mar. 11, 2024 -- It has been 16 years since Heights High has won a team state championship in … anything. But that’s exactly what happened on Friday, March 1st when the boys’ track and field team traveled to Spire Institute in Geneva for the Indoor Track State Championship.

With only a small group of athletes qualifying to participate, the competition started off slowly when sophomore Henry Perrymond suffered a pulled muscle in the preliminaries of the 60-meter dash and failed to advance. When junior Marquise Davis also failed to qualify for the final round, it seemed maybe the high hopes of the team would be dashed.

But head coach Scott McNulty made some quick adjustments to his relay teams, replacing Perrymond with Jay’vier Kerr, another 10th grader, for the 4 x 200-meter relay. That team, consisting of Kerr, senior Michael Middleton, sophomore Aiden West, and Davis, pulled off a second place finish to tournament favorite Huber Heights’ Wayne High School.

(Remember that name: Huber Heights’ Wayne High School … we’ll see them again.)

Several events later, it was time for the 400-meter dash. With the top 24 runners in the state split into three heats, Heights had Kerr in the middle heat and Middleton in the fastest heat. It’s typical in such races that the fastest overall times come from the final – and highest seeded – heat.

But on Friday, “highest seeded” did not necessarily mean fastest. Kerr finished first in his heat and third overall, while Middleton, who had broken the Heights indoor record several weeks ago, did so yet again when he crossed the finish line in an impressive 47.10 seconds, not only a personal best but the second fastest time in the nation and quick enough to earn him the title of 400-Meter Indoor State Champion.

In the midst of all these running races, Kerr was also competing in the triple jump, where he eventually secured a second place finish and yet another trip to the podium.

Meanwhile, Heights fielded a girls’ team in the 4 x 400-meter relay, that consisted of senior Julianna Madlock, juniors Jane Mueller and Leila Evans, and freshman Savanna Vance.

As the meet wore down, just three of the 72 teams competing for the boys’ championship trophy were actually in contention. Wayne went into the 4 x 400-meter relay in first place with 35 points. Heights High was second with 32. And Westerville Central had 30.

As announcer Claude Holland kept reminding the crowd, the winner of the 4x4 would determine the victor. Actually, it would come down to both the first and the second place finishes to determine the winner.

For those not in the know about how track meets are scored: The top 8 finishers in any event earn points, with 1st place earning ten, 2nd earning eight, 3rd earning six, and then 4th through 8th earning 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. The team with the highest combined score wins. Which meant that if Heights finished first in the 4x4 and earned 10 points, they’d have a total of 42. But if Wayne finished second and earned 8 points, they’d have a total of 43 and thus be the champions.

Heights didn’t just need to win first place and beat Wayne in the 4x4. They needed Wayne to finish third.

Jay’vier Kerr started the relay off strong, blasting to the lead and never looking back. His handoff to Marquise Davis was smooth, as was Davis’ running … but Wayne was in striking distance in second.

Davis passed off the baton to sophomore Aiden West, who dashed around the track, with Wayne and Olentangy Orange battling it out behind him.

And then the baton was finally in the hands of Michael Middleton, currently the fastest high school 400-meter runner in the state of Ohio and the 2nd fastest in the nation. But anchors from Wayne, Chardon and Olentangy Orange were right at his side, each one even edging past him for a moment, maybe about to battle it out for first against each other.

But that was just an illusion. When Middleton kicked into his highest gear, the track was his and the victory was secure, with a record finish of 3:23.31.

Heights boys’ track had not only won the 4x4, but with Olentangy Orange outkicking Wayne as they all came down the final straightaway, Heights Tigers had secured the Indoor Track State Championship for the first time ever, with 42 points to Wayne’s 41 points.

As Kerr, Davis, West, and Middleton celebrated with their coaches and teammates, word came through that Wayne’s 4x4 team had been disqualified for a line violation and actually ended the meet, still in second place, but with just 35 points.

Anyone who sees that final score could never imagine just how close it all came. And just how hard that small group of Tiger runners had to fight to come out on top.

But come out on top, they did.

Heights will open its outdoor season at home with the 40th running of the Weingart Relays on Saturday, April 6. Volunteer for the chance to get in free and watch Heights High defend its reputation against nearly 30 schools, including one who will be coming from as far away as Dayton: Wayne.