COLUMBUS — High school track coaches often say that you never know how field events are going to play out at the state meet.
Elmwood junior Micah Oliver cleared 6 feet, two inches during the high jump to place fourth Saturday during the Division II state meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University Saturday.
“That was a stressful but surprising finish,” Elmwood track coach Andrew Jasso said. “It was a surprise for placing with 6-2. It’s just how it played out this year.”
The winning jump was 6-7 by Canton South senior Xavier Williams. Cleveland Glenville senior Jermaine Foster finished second on jumps at 6-6, and Mentor Lake Catholic senior T.J. Gibbons was third, also jumping 6-6.
But there were four inches between third and fourth place, which is rarely the case.
Oliver tied for fourth at 6-2 with Defiance sophomore Heaven Dalton, Fenwick senior D.J. Brown and West Holmes junior Kyle Maltarich.
Remember, the state record is 7-1½ by Ryan Fleck of Napoleon, set in 2008, plus all three jumpers finishing ahead of Oliver are seniors, so Jasso says the sky is the limit for next year.
“It’s looking pretty high — looking pretty good for him,” Jasso said. “He’s a worker. He will do anything that we tell him to do.”
Oliver’s personal record is 6-3, set during his sophomore season, so Jasso says the coaches have been “trying a lot of different this year for him” to try get him back to that level, and if he does, watch out.
At state his sophomore year, Oliver cleared six feet, placing 16th, so his state performance was two inches better.
Oliver’s senior teammate, Jackson Childress, placed eighth in the discus with a throw of 161-8, which is short of his top seed throw of 168-1. Plus, Childress ran up against some of the best competition seen in the event.
Last year as a junior, Childress placed ninth in the D-II discus with a toss of 153-1. This year the winning throw of 180-1 was thrown by Norwayne junior Dilion Morlock.
“He could have done a lot better, I think,” Jasso said. “Jackson was not disappointed, but he thinks he could have done better, obviously.”
Elmwood throws coach Kevin Mermin added, “It happens sometimes. He went up against some real good competition and he just had a few technical things go wrong. He persevered and pushed through, ended up on the podium, so that’s the goal at the end.”
Childress just missed the podium in the state shot put, throwing 52-6 to place ninth. He had two fouls and was less than three feet short of the eighth place finisher, Orrville sophomore Taylor Beichler (55-3½).
Mermin is a first-year coach at Elmwood with multiple years coaching experience at other schools, so he just got to know Childress this year. Mermin, a Rossford graduate who threw collegiately, says he has been impressed.
“Jackson is probably one of the, if not the hardest working athlete I have ever coached in my life,” Mermin said.
“His dedication and determination are something that most coaches dream of an athlete. He is out there every day working on his craft hours on end.
“I never have to tell him anything to do, he’s already five steps ahead of me. It doesn’t matter, he knows what he’s done wrong, he knows how to fix it. He’s one of the great kids you get once in a lifetime to coach.”
Childress will throw collegiately at Hillsdale College in Michigan.
“I think they are very much getting a diamond in the rough with Jackson,” Mermin said. “He has got some very good raw potential and I think with some higher end coaching and weight training, I think he is going to turn some heads in that league.”