It was a productive performance for Twinsburg High boys athletes at the coveted state track and field championships.
Competing at the highest level, the Tigers competed at the 112th annual State Division I Championships at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at the Ohio State University Friday and Saturday
With the bright lights on in the biggest stage of the season, head coach Dalanda Jackson saw the Tigers answer the call even with some lofty expectations due to the Tigers’ vast talent level.
"Like any other meet, there were some highs and some lows, but at the end of the meet, the only thing that truly matters is the final result," stated Jackson.
"The team traveled to Columbus with nine boys who had high hopes and big dreams," she added.
Twinsburg finished 14th in the boys team race with 13 points. Pickerington Central dominated to win the state team crown with 87 points.
Senior Etaijen "ET" Easter became a two-time, two event state placer, while senior Brad Yates became a first-time state placer as he placed fifth in Ohio in the pole vault competition.
Easter placed fourth in Ohio in the high jump for Twinsburg. The school record holder, Easter finished fourth in Ohio in Division I in the high jump with a leap of 6-feet, 9 inches.
A two-time state placer for the Tigers, Easter was third in Ohio last season at 6-7 feet.
Wooster’s Lonnie Harper was crowned state champion at 6-11 feet as he was the Ohio runner-up in 2018.
Just edging Easter was Shaker Heights junior Jaivon Harrison and Middletown senior Shandon Morris, who both reached 6-10 feet to place second and third, respectively.
Yates, a two-time state qualifier in the pole vault, saved his best for last.
Shattering his own school record, Yates placed fifth in Ohio when he cleared 15-feet, 2.0 inches.
"Brad clearing 15-2 set a new PR and a school record," said Jackson.
A regional champion, Yates qualified for states last season but no-heighted in the event to make this year’s effort that much more exciting.
Yates excelled in the highest level of meets when he wasn’t physically feeling at his best.
"Sick as a dog, the young man cleared six bars to set a new school record and PR," said pole vault coach Roger Buell. "The work that he’s put in when nobody is watching is amazing."
"It has been a pleasure coaching Brad; he’s done everything I’ve asked him to do," added Buell.
Butler’s Dalton Shepler won the state pole vault crown at 16-6 feet..
Although he didn’t win a state title, Easter did register his finest state meet distances in both the high jump and in the long jump.
Easter placed fifth in Ohio in the long jump as he leaped 23-5.25 feet. Last year, Easter was seventh in Ohio at 22-11.5 feet.
Recently, Easter won the Austintown Fitch regional long jump title and broke the regional record, the school record, and the Falcon Stadium record with a leap of 24-4.50 feet.
"I’m disappointed because I wanted to win," stated Easter, who was a threat in both jumps. "I just feel like I could have performed better."
Sophomore Marvahun Johnson shined in his state meet debut in two events.
In the 200-meter dash, Johnson just missed qualifying for state finals as he had a blazing fast time of 22.24 seconds in the preliminary heat. That was a PR for Johnson.
Gifted Solon sprinter Greg Parries just edged Johnson for the finals berth with a time of 22.15 ticks.
Besides being the boys head coach, Jackson also coaches the programs’boys and girls sprinters, so Johnson emergence was exciting to see. He has a high ceiling for the Tigers in a few events.
Standout senior Ryan Adkins also competed at the state meet at OSU.
"Ryan is the other veteran, who finished 13th in the 3,200-meters," offered Jackson.
Adkins finished 13th overall in the 3,200-meter race with a time of 9 minutes, 34.37 seconds.
Last spring, Adkins reached the state meet in the 1,600-meter race and was 17th (4:22.84).
In regionals, Adkins had a school record time of 9:20.63 in the 3,200-meter race, breaking the mark of 9:20.80 set in 2014 by former Tiger Garrett Crichlow.
The Tiger staff was also elated at how junior Darren Robinson has made huge strides!
Robinson ran 15th overall in Ohio in the 400-meter race with a clocking of 50.29 seconds. Robinson is also the school record holder in the event.
"New to this stage was Darren and Marvahun," said Jackson.
Johnson is eager to return and much like Robinson, could star in several open events and relays next spring.
"It was great," said Johnson, who anchored the 800-meter relay as well. "I love the experience, the show, and the energy. I canít wait to be back next year."
Twinsburg’s 800-meter relay also competed at state and gained invaluable experience. The Tiger crew was 17th in 1:30.30.
Making up the relay was junior Dominick Glenn, senior Tyrese Yarbrough, Robinson, and Johnson.
Jackson will miss the services of Yarbrough as well as a host of other outstanding seniors in the program.
"Johnson, Robinson, Glenn, and Callow will all be returning next year," said Jackson. "They are hungry, eager, and are already talking about what they want to do in the offseason to prepare for next year."
"The team headed into the competition with three seniors who took this trip last season, Ryan Adkins, Etaijen Easter, and Brad Yates," added Jackson.
It was a post season and league meet that also gave us a sneak peek to the Tigers’ potential for the future.
"Those seniors, along with seven others who experienced it for the first time, Brett Callow, Gilbert Campbell, Dominick Glenn, Marvahun Johnson, Darren Robinson, and Tyrese Yarbrough took the trip," said Jackson, who will have a strong nucleus back in 2020.