The first-ever team state title for a school is special.
However, accomplishing this feat with just four athletes makes it unique.
This past weekend, Lima Central Catholic had four athletes compete in the Division III state track meet at Ohio State.
Mykale Rogers, Jamir Coleman, Dimitri Floyd and Scott Willeke went to Columbus with dreams of coming back with the gold. Last season LCC finished second in the final team standings.
This past weekend LCC notched the elusive Division III boys team state track and field title.
Rogers and Coleman had already made their mark at the state meet before.
Last season, Rogers and Coleman went 1-2 in the long jump. Coming into this season, Rogers had two state titles in the long jump. Both were part of the 800-meter relay team that broke the state record last year.
However, half of that relay was sidelined this spring because of injuries. Nick Taflinger and Darius West were unable to compete, which left the future of the relay up in the air.
LCC coach Nate Garlock desperately began the search for replacements for his somewhat crippled relay.
The speedy Floyd, who played football and basketball, seemed to be a possible solution for one spot.
Then, with the advice of Rogers, Garlock decided to give distance runner Willeke a shot at filling the other void. Willeke was a state qualifier in the 800 meters this season.
The makeshift LCC quartet broke the state record at the Division III regional at Troy in just its sixth time of running together. The T-Birds clocked a 1:27.63 in their winning effort at Troy.
Then, this past weekend at the state meet, the T-Birds would not be denied.
After finishing third in Friday’s preliminaries, LCC’s 800 relay came back Saturday and put together a performance that could only be described in one word, “wow”.
Despite having a near-disastrous handoff between Willeke and Floyd on the first exchange in the 800 relay, the T-Birds were still able to break the state meet record, clocking 1:27.86.
Also on Saturday, Coleman won both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, finishing in 10.86 and 21.88, respectively.
Friday, Rogers broke the state record in the long jump, going 24 feet, 5 ½ inches. Coleman came in second with a personal-best 23-9 ¼.
Words could not describe the joy I saw in these four athletes’ faces when they accepted the state championship trophy Saturday afternoon.
For years, Rogers and Coleman have been the best of friends.
Both of them knew the state meet would probably be the last time they would compete together.
Rogers will be playing football at the University of Toledo next fall. Coleman will continue his track career at the University of Akron.
This past weekend, track fans witnessed four very determined athletes who came together and overcame adversity in their search for a state title.
Most track experts had written off LCC’s chances in the relay. They said there was no way LCC could overcome the injuries it sustained.
The one thing most people didn’t realize, however, was the inner drive these four young men possessed.
Now they know.