In the top photo, Jonathan Alder’s Morgan Hicks, far left, competes during the state Division II 3200 meter run at Pickerington North High School. She placed fifth in the race. In the photo to the below, JA’s Joey Walker clears the high jump bar en route to capturing the D-II boys state championship. Hicks and Walker were among numerous Pioneer athletes who sparked a successful season. (Journal-Tribune photos by Sam Dillon)
The 2021 high school track and field season ended on a very high note for the Pioneers of Jonathan Alder.
JA sent athletes in three events to last weekend’s Division II state meet that was held at Pickerington North High School.
Each of those athletes earned spots on the awards podium, led by high jumper Joey Walker.
The junior claimed the state title with a leap of 6-8.
Senior Morgan Hicks placed fifth in the girls 3200 (11:10.97), while the 4×800 relay team of Hicks, Evie McDaniel, Liza Streit and Elaina Winslow was sixth in 9:35.
“We’re very proud of how our athletes performed this season,” said Pioneer coach Justin Creps. “Getting to the podium at the state meet requires a combination of talent, commitment and a lot of hard work.
“Getting to celebrate three trips to the podium this year reflects the culture our athletes, coaches, administration and families have all helped to build for our program.”
Creps said Walker’s state title was a pleasant surprise.
“It was incredibly special,” said the coach. “We knew Joey would be in the mix to finish pretty high atop the podium and we spent a lot of time talking about how, at the state championship level, a lot comes down to who can control their emotions and jump their best when the pressure is on.”
Walker’s previous best jump was 6-5. He shattered that personal record by three inches in winning the state crown.
“Joey rose to the occasion,” said Creps. “I’d be lying if I said I thought he was going to jump that high beforehand.
“However, he’s a great example we can use going forward as someone who rose to the occasion on the big stage.”
The state meet was the final high school event for Hicks.
“I don’t know if it’s possible to put into words how much Morgan has meant to this program,” said Creps. “She’s been All-Ohio numerous times, won five conference titles, eight district championships, three regional championships and a state title during her (cross-country and track) careers.
“She holds four school records and two conference records.”
Creps said Hicks brought many qualities to her cross-country and track careers.
“She’s selfless, kind, supportive, hard-working, brave, driven and committed,” he said. “As a coach, you couldn’t ask for a better teammate and leader to build your program around.
“Morgan has had a huge impact on why our program is achieving the success we have enjoyed.”
Hicks will continue her CC and track careers at the University of Toledo.
Despite the graduation of Hicks and several other seniors (including Winslow), the future continues to look bright for the Pioneers.
“We have a lot of talent returning that we’re very excited about,” said Creps. “On the boys side, we return 83% of the points we scored at the Central Buckeye Conference meet.
“On the girls side, we return 71% of the points we scored at the CBC.”
McDaniel and Streit recently completed their sophomore seasons.
“I don’t like naming names this far out, because there are dozens of athletes who are going to be key for us next year,” said Creps. “The expectation will be for all of our athletes to work hard, try their best and we’ll see where that takes us.”
“Usually, the results are pretty fun.”