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Morris second in state high jump

COLUMBUS — Lukas Morris was at the top of his game, and he was nearly at the top of the standings.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers junior high jumper leaped 6-feet, 8-inches to finish second in the Division II state track and field meet held Saturday at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University.

Senior Ryan Fleck of Napoleon was also at the top of his game in order to win.

Fleck set a new Division II meet and state record as he cleared 7-feet, one and one-half inches. The old state record was 7-feet, one-quarter inch and the state meet record was 7-foot, set in 1977 by Kevin Bryant of Bellbrook.

“If feels pretty good, I’d feel better if I had won. I thought it would be a battle at 6-10. I never expected him to go 7-1,” said Morris. “My jumps were solid. Every jump was good. He just went a little higher.”

Morris’ leap of 6-8 matched his own school record. It was the third time this season he has cleared 6-8.

“He didn’t have any misses until he got to 6-8. He was jumping well, but Fleck was jumping well, too. Luke performed well for Ironton and our fans and community should be proud,” said Ironton Greg Cronacher.

“He had a good jump at 6-9 but he sort of drug the bar off his heals. There were a lot of

‘oohs’ and ‘aaahs.’ He handled the pressure well of being at the state meet for the first time. I think everyone recognized he was the second best jumper here.”

Morris won the district and regional meets. He only jumped 6-2 in windy conditions to win the regional meet.

“I was to be relaxed today and I just had fun with it. I wasn’t worrying about everyone else. I was trying to have little fun,” said Morris.

Last year, Morris had only one jump at 6-5 during the season. Morris said his improvement was noticeable as the season progressed.

“I could definitely tell the difference from last year to this year. If I can get my technique down, I’ve had coaches, not just coach Cronacher, tell me I could be a 7-footer,” said Morris.

Nathan Davis of Dayton Stivers was third at 6-7, Braden McMonigle of Monroe was fourth at 6-7 due to more misses.

Justin Cook of Clyde was fifth at 6-6, Aaron Hartzell of Springfield Northeastern and Josh Hoodlebrink of Pemberville tied for sixth at 6-5, and Josh Miller of Willard was eighth at 6-4.

Morris, Davis, Hartzell, and Hoodlebrink are juniors. The other four are seniors.

In the girls’ long jump, South Point junior Erika Leighty leaped 16-feet, 5-inches to place 11th overall.

DeVonne Howard of Orrville won the event at 18-10.25 with Alexis Geiger of Gallipolis second at 18-1.75.

Leighty has exceeded 17-feet this season. Sixth place was 17-1.25 by Megan Thuney of Kettering Alter.

On Friday, three local runners participated in the state meet preliminaries.

Ironton senior Marc Carter ran a 53.08 in the 400-meter dash to finish eighth in his heat, thus failing to make the finals.

Carter had a 50.32 time to win the regional meet. If Carter had matched that time in the preliminaries, it would have been the third best time in his heat and sixth best overall.

Fairland junior Aaron Ward ran a 15.91 and was sixth in his heat of the 110-meter hurdles. Ward came into the meet with a 14.89 qualifying time in the regional meet that would have been the second-best time overall in the state preliminaries.

Fairland Lady Dragons’ sophomore Jordan Aldridge had a 16.84 time and was eighth in her heat of the 100-meter hurdles. She had a 15.73 qualifying time in the regional meet.