The Clinton County trio headed to the OHSAA Track and Field Championships in central Ohio Friday and Saturday face uphill challenges to reach the podium.
But top eight state finish aside, each is hopeful of setting a new school standard.
Daelin Maple of Clinton-Massie will competed in the Division II shot put at Pickerington North High School 10 a.m. Friday.
Brett Brooks of Wilmington will compete in the Division I meet discus event at Hilliard Darby High School 10 a.m. Saturday.
Michael Moritz of Clinton-Massie will compete in the Division II discus at Pickerington North High School 10 a.m. Saturday.
The Division III state meet is being held at Westerville North High School.
Brooks, a junior, faces a tough challenge in a strong field. His regional and personal best of 163-9 ranks seventh among all competitors based on their best efforts last week, not their personal bests throughout the season.
The WHS record for the boys discus is held by Chris Holcomb, who had a throw of 168-8 in 2008.
When watching Brooks in the discus, you better not turn your head.
He gets in the ring.
Plants his feet.
And usually with great success.
He has tried slowing down but his unassuming demeanor keeps him on the move.
“I start to feel the eyes on me, the pressure,” he said.
When he has been more deliberate, his throws “usually better by a little but not a lot.”
Coach Chris Reynolds said, “We have tried to slow him down. He’s always anxious to throw. He just tries to stay loose and not tense up.”
As one of the two WHS athletes to qualify as an individual for a state tournament in the same school year (Nick Smith is the other), Brooks wants vindication from going 0-2 at the state wrestling tournament earlier this season.
“I want to see what I can do up there (at state),” he said. “I didn’t get to do much during wrestling. It’s redemption. I think about losing both times every day.”
When the 18-athlete field for the discus gathers around the judges for final instructions Saturday at the state meet, Moritz will likely stand out.
And not because he’s head and shoulders bigger than the other competitors.
In fact, just the opposite.
Moritz will likely be the smallest among those who will be vying for the state title.
And he’s OK with that.
“I always focus on myself,” said Moritz, a senior whose graduated CMHS. “I never worry about anybody else.”
Said coach Scott Rolf, “He has a swagger about him. He’s not intimidated by anyone.”
Moritz threw 147-7 last week which puts him 13th in the field. Considering where he started, that’s impressive.
Moritz admits he was not fan of running when he first went out for the Clinton-Massie Middle School track and field team as a seventh grader.
“I was a big kid; I had some fat on me,” the now-slender Moritz said.
So when he heard discus throwers didn’t have to run, he was all in.
“I was sold,” he said with a hearty laugh.
As a freshman, Moritz’s best was 78 feet, he remembers, but through “hours of practice and lifting weights” he has made himself a state-qualifying discus thrower.
“I’m very satisfied with my season,” he said. “This year my goal was 140 (feet) and I hit that a few weeks ago. We’re thinking 150 would be good (now).
The Massie discus record is 164-4 set by Octavian Aker in 1989.
Maple has been a sprinter for the Massie track and field program until this year. The powerfully-built junior struggled with a hamstring issue as a freshman and had his sophomore year wiped out by the Covid-19 pandemic.
As he grew bigger and became stronger, Maple was asked to try the shot put this year in addition to three running events.
“When I think of throwing, I think of guys much bigger than me,” he said. “So at first I didn’t really know (if this was a good idea).”
He’ll likely be one of the smallest throwers among the 18 in the field.
“My advantage is speed and power, form,” he said. “I try to make sure everything is down to a ‘T’.”
In his first meet this season, Maple said he had a best of 42-3.75.
” Maybe I’m not going to be too bad at this,” he thought at the time. “Since then I’ve made a bunch of changes in my form.”
And his distance kept getting better.
“My next five meets I PR’d by over a foot each time,” he said.
And eventually, he hit 50-10 last week at the regional meet.
“I’m confident I have more in me,” he said. “Next year, the goal is the school record. I’ve fallen in love with throwing. With Michael (Moritz) leaving in the discus, I may have to try that one out (next year).”
The Falcons record for the shot put is 55-9.5 set by Dean Beckett in 1980.