COLUMBUS — Prior the Division II state track and field meet. Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy boys track coach Craig Rupe said he had a feeling his team would need everything to go right if it wanted to fend off Shelby and repeat as Division II state champion.
Rupe turned out to be right — but CVCA still got the best individual performance of the tournament.
Paced by senior Tre Tucker, CVCA scored 42 points to finish Division II boys runner-up behind champion Shelby, which had 57 points. The state meet took place at Ohio State University’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium Friday and Saturday.
Tucker outdid his prolific performance at last year’s state meet by winning three individual events over the weekend. Tucker won the long jump on Friday, and the 100 meters (10.90) and the 200 meters (21.66) Saturday, as well as anchoring the second-place 400 relay team.
Tucker led CVCA to a Division II boys team state title last year in Columbus with firsts in the long jump, the 100, and 800 relay and a third in the 200.
The 200 was the race that got away from Tucker a year ago. He avenged a loss to Perkins’ Simeon Hunter, who fell from second to fifth, and last year’s winner, Warrensville’s Jarquez Cornell, who graduated.
″[The 200 is] the last event, [and] it’s always hot because we’re in the middle of the day, so I trained properly," Tucker said. "I got down here last year and finished third, so that really set my mindset on, ‘Work on my 200, work on my 200.’"
Tucker’s victory in his final event of the day capped a nearly unblemished state meet appearance.
The Royals’ 400 relay team of Tucker, senior Jay Patsch and juniors Shane Douglas and Justin Luiza finished second to Dayton Dunbar in 42.21.
"It’s awesome being able to lead a team, but those guys push me just as much as I push them," Tucker said of his teammates. "They kick my butt actually, and the thanks is to them because all the hard work I put in with them shows."
Tucker opened up his final high school track and field meet in style on Friday.
Tucker stood atop the podium for the second year in a row as a Division II state boys long jump after his winning jump of 23-feet-3.5.
"I am grateful, I am humbled and I thank God for everything because that is who I put No. 1," Tucker said. "It is cool being back on the top of the podium. I think once you are on top your junior year there is no going back down. I worked hard all year long and came back on top again."
Tucker, a University of Cincinnati football recruit, was happy to surpass 23 feet in Columbus after taking first last year at 22-10.5. His personal-best long jump is 23-7, accomplished earlier this season at the Walsh Jesuit John Hasenstab Warrior Relays.
"Tre just went in so calm and cool," CVCA boys coach Craig Rupe said. "George Hallis, our girls coach, was eating breakfast with him this morning and he was the most calm and relaxed you would ever see, which is not a common trait for someone at their state meet, but Tre is here for the fourth year so we knew we had a big advantage with that from the start.
"Being here and knowing the board, knowing how it works and knowing when to get up a little bit earlier than normal helps. He went out and did exactly what he always does. He has great jumps, executes perfectly and puts the pressure on everybody else."
Royals jumps coach Marcia Anderson said Tucker’s "power" and "strength" help him separate from the pack.
"He is extremely coachable," Anderson said. "Whatever you say, he executes. He is probably one of the only athletes I have known that has been very consistent on his run. That is probably 90 percent of long jumping."
Tucker’s victory on Friday came before a delay that stretched for over three hours in the afternoon, and caused the Division I meet to end after 10:30 p.m.