GENEVA — For the first time in school history, the Wayne indoor track team won the Division 1 state title, scoring 42 points, ahead of GWOC and rival Centerville, who scored 32 points. There were 67 Division 1 schools that scored, and over 110 schools that competed. The meet was held at the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio.
The Warriors had 15 state qualifiers, and had nine place in the top eight and get on the podium. Junior Justin Harris was state runner-up in the 60 meter hurdles, running a career best time of 7.97 seconds. Winning the event was Quentin Woodall of Brush, in 7.88. Going into the meet, his best time of the year was 8.18, but he went 8.15 in the semi-finals, winning his heat over defending state champion Dyier Smith from Springfield. Harris had the third best time going into the finals, but had the race of his life, and after clearing the last hurdle, his determination leaned (and fell) at the finish line for a second place finish.
“Justin had a great day,” said head coach Mike Fernandez. “This young man will run through a wall for you, and willed his was to an incredible finish in the hurdles. His focus, determination and competitiveness was on display that day. He was a big catalyst on our team championship run, he really helped set the tone.”
Senior Joel Crain had a career day as well, as he too was a state runner-up in the weight throw, tossing a personal best of 70 feet, 2 inches. Winning the event was Dylan Literal of Hilliard Darby (70-8.75).
“Joel had the lead in the finals, but lost the event on the literal final throw. Joel had a tremendous day, it was a shame he didn’t get the win, but throwing over 3 feet from his personal best was a great consolation as well.”
Teammate Dylan Beaird was third, throwing 62 feet, 9 inches.
“I couldn’t be more proud of how Dylan competed, not only at the state meet, but the whole season. His determination and hard worked paid off on the biggest stage.”
Both Crain and Beaird contributed 14 points from this event.
Crain also threw his best in the shot put, tossing the 12 pound ball 56 feet 2 inches to place 5th.
“He’s been in a little funk for a few weeks, but picked a right time to throw big. We really needed those team points, as it helped propel us back in the team lead,” Fernandez noted.
Junior sprinter Zarik Brown took 5th in the 60 meter dash (6.97 in the finals, 6.93 in the semifinals) and 6th in the 200 meter dash (21.94).
“Zarik experienced the state indoor meet for the first time, and ran two competitive races. His start wasn’t his best in the 60 meter dash, but he battled and competed. The 200 meter race was his best time ever (22.35 was his previous best) indoors. Breaking 22 seconds is quite an accomplishment, and only one other Wayne athlete has ever done that indoors (Jason Craig, current assistant coach, 2016 Wayne inductee of Hall of Fame, and school record holder in the event- indoors and outdoors).
Both Brown (21.5) and Harris (22.2) teamed with Alijah Fleming (23.2) and Jaden Roberts (23.9) to take 6th overall in the 4×200 meter relay, running 1:30.97, their best time of the year.
“Going into the meet, we we’re ranked 9th, so placing 6th was huge,” Fernandez said. “We actually won our heat, but had to wait out the last heat to see our fate. Zarik and Justin did what they always do on the first two legs, and Alijah ran his best race ever. Jaden, a freshman, held his own as an anchor leg. This relay has come a long way, as only Harris and Brown started the year on this relay. All four runners return next year, and are already talking about placing higher.”
Senior Diante Lesperance jumped 2 feet further than his previous best, to take 8th in the triple jump with a leap of 42 feet 6.75 inches.
“Diante was 12th going into the meet, but had a great series of jumps, and kept getting better and better every jump. I’m happy for him, it was his first season triple jumping.”
Harris (50.2), Brown (48.8) and Fleming (52.1) teamed with Lucas Houk (51.1) to place 4th in the 4×400 meter relay, running 3:23.86, their best time of the year.
“This relay ran 5 seconds faster than what they ran to qualify. Again, both Justin and Zarik put us in great position from the start. Alijah ran his personal best and kept us in the top 3. Lucas ran an incredible anchor leg, keeping us there, while also running his personal best. That race solidified our team championship.”
Also competing but not placing in the top 8 were:
Lucas Houk, 1600 meter run (4:28.39 18th place, also qualified in 800 meter run, but did not compete), Reed Feagle, shot put (46 feet 8 inches, 24th ), Kaelan Turner, triple jump (38 feet 10.25 inches, 18th place), Diante Lesperance, long jump (12th, 20 feet 1.25), and Brian Hill, High jump.
“This was a true team championship, as we had so many kids contribute. We didn’t win any events, but placed in enough to score 42 team points. That speaks volumes for our kids, and how they did what they needed to do to bring home the championship. I want to thank my assistant coaches Jim Findlay, Todd Anderson, Jason Craig, Joe Theis and Terry Wasson for getting our athletes ready to compete. We are going to enjoy this for a little bit, but will get back to work this week to get ready for a shot at the outdoor title in June.”