BUCYRUS – Colonel Crawford’s state medalist miler Clay Martin — a.k.a Marty McFly — marches to the beat of 1980s music: Queen, The Cars, Pat Benatar.
“I’m a big Eighties fan,” Martin said, explaining why he adopted the name of the Michael J. Fox character in the Back To The Future movie trilogy of that era and wears it on the back of his hoodie. “Music, movies, fashion … my parents think I was born in the wrong decade.”
Crawford track coach Preston Foy, an actual child of the Eighties, doesn’t care what decade Martin identifies with as long as he continues to succeed in the present.
Martin’s 2:01 anchor split helped Crawford win the 4 x 800 meter relay Thursday during the Division III district meet at Bucyrus. Collaborating with Martin was Chad Johnson, Brad Bauer and Brandon Long.
Collectively, the title-winning time of 8:25.11 was the crew’s best of the year. Individually, they’ve all had better splits, so Foy believes the potential is there to do even better.
“Clay’s job as anchor was not to worry about his split but to just make sure we advance, so he can go even faster,” Foy said, noting that Martin ran a 1:59.1 in the open 800 last week at the Northern 10 meet. “They’re all going to have to go faster because the Tiffin regional is pretty tough.”
Martin’s teammates like him a lot more than his taste in music.
“He’s got a very broad personality,” said junior Owen Adams, who repeated as district long jump champ. “He’s a funny guy.”
Martin hopes to cap his high school career by reaching state in the 4 x 800 and the open 800 and 1,600 before heading off to the University of Akron.
“It was the food (at Akron) that won me over,” said the lanky senior, who doesn’t look like he makes eating a priority. “If I get the food plan I’m aiming for, I’ll gain 20 pounds.”
Shedding time is the main thing on his mind right now.
“I think the wind we experienced today might have kept us from dropping another two or three seconds,” he said. “We’ll see a more diverse group (of opponents) at regionals, so hopefully that will push us all.”
Although Thursday was a light day for finals, Crawford did very well, producing a total of three district champs and four other regional qualifiers, including a pair in both the boys long jump and girls discus.
Adams won the long jump with a personal best of 20-9.75 and teammate Dylan Gulley was fourth (20-1). The Eagles went one-two in the discus behind Megan Lyons (120-9) and Cheyanne Johnson (108-9).
Also taking runner-up honors for the Eagles were the girls 4 x 800 crew (10:42.3), sophomore Sam Mutchler in the girls high jump (5-0) and junior Noah Ferguson in the shot put (48-6.5).
“I was really hoping for 21 feet because I really like the long jump pit here,” Adams said of his repeat title. “Breaking 21 feet is my goal. I’ve been dragging my left foot, but (assistant) coach (Rick Keller) has been helping me with that.”
Ferguson made it to regionals last year, but in the discus. He’ll know after Saturday’s discus competition if he’s headed to Tiffin in both.
“Usually the discus is my best event, but this year I’ve transitioned into the shot,” Ferguson said. “I’ve been working a little bit more on the shot and I’ve improved in it a little more than the discus.”
Fergurson draws inspiration from former Crawford throwing greats like state champs Isiah Kent and Adam Stucker and his brother Lucas, who medaled in both shot and discus for Mount Vernon and went on to compete for Miami of Ohio.
“I’ve been throwing since third grade,” Ferguson said. “Just watching my brother and the guys here who came before me (including state medalist Clay Jury) makes me want to chase after them.”
The area’s other champ Thursday was Buckeye Central sophomore Aubrey Wright in the high jump with a personal-best by four inches of 5-2. Teammate Sarah Heydinger, also a sophomore, was third (4-10) and Wynford’s Alydia Miller was fourth (4-10). Wynford’s James Ort was fourth in the shot (46-7.25).
Top four in each event advance to regionals.
“Coach (Joe Wiles) has been pushing us hard and we’ve been working on our technique,” Wright said. “He told us to do our best and it got to me, I guess.
“I didn’t know it would happen (that she and Heydinger would both advance), but it did. We’re always saying things like ‘I’m not going to go without you.’”
Wright was coming off a title in the N 10 meet, where she beat Mutchler for the first time.
“That’s the way coach trained us, to be peaking at this time,” Wright said. “I trust him fully. My goal by the end of the season was 5-2, but now it’s 5-6. Go big or go home.”
South Central’s Carson McKinney won the shot put (52-6). Also earning regional berths in the 4 x 800 were the Crestview boys (second, 8:29.24) and Plymouth girls (fourth, 11:22.40). Crestview’s Michael Kochenderfer and St. Peter’s Thomas Schlitt were three-four in the pole vault at 12-0 and 11-6, respectively.