Elks News · Soto Dazzles as Boys Track Finishes State Runner-Up

The boys track team headed to Columbus over the weekend to compete in the state track meet.  The team had high hopes heading to Columbus and cashed in on their opportunities.

On Friday night, the boys 4 x 800 meter relay team, seeded twelfth coming into the race, endured a 90-minute weather delay before running a great race and finishing in a time of 7:49.75 to claim 5th place and four big points for the team.  The great effort by seniors Andrew Craig, Matt Nerlinger and Jack Welsh along with junior Ben Burkett set the Elks up for a big Saturday.  Later that same night, the boys 4 x 400 meter relay team took to the track for their semifinal heat trying to earn their way into Saturday night’s finals.  The boys ran a great time of 3:20.86 to finish third in their heat and qualify sixth heading to Saturday’s finals.  That team was made up of freshman Cam Stevens, junior Yariel Soto and seniors Craig and Nerlinger.

On Saturday, the Elks started with a bang and never let up.  Junior Yariel Soto became the first CHS athlete to win two state championships in the same day.  He started with the long jump where he was in a tight battle with a jumper from Canton McKinley.  His first jump was 22 feet, 11.5 inches and he kept getting better from there.  His second jump went 23 feet, 2.75 inches and his third went 23 feet 6 inches.  Following a foul on his fourth jump, his fifth went 23 feet, 10.25 inches.  With one jump left, he still trailed the senior from McKinley who had jumped 24 feet, 1.25 inches on his first jump which was still holding on to first place.  Digging deep, Soto leaped to an amazing 24 feet, 2.75 inches on his final attempt to claim the state championship.  From there, he turned his attention to the pole vault where he was locked in a close battle with senior teammate Colin Jasin.  They were two of the final five jumpers left in the competition at 15 feet 2 inches.  Jasin was unable to clear that height and wrapped up his illustrious career with a 4th place finish.  Soto did clear that height and eventually cleared 15 feet 6 inches to put all the pressure on the senior from Westerville South.  When he was unable to clear that height, Soto had his second state title of the day.  The 24.5 points earned by those two vaulted the Elks into the lead with 28.5 points with the running events still to come.  First up was senior Matt Nerlinger in the 1,600 meter run and he wrapped up his fantastic career with a 15th place finish in that event, but would be heard from one more time later that night.  In the 800 meter run, senior Andrew Craig finished 14th to put a cap on his fantastic career.  In the running events, the Elks were passed by eventual state champion Pickerington Central and Springfield with one event left.  The Elks were still sitting on 28.5 points and Springfield had 32 so the Elks needed an epic performance from their 4 x 400 meter relay team to jump the Wildcats and move into second place and that is exactly what they got.  The team of freshman Cam Stevens, Soto, Nerlinger and Craig turned in a dazzling time of 3:19.58 to finish as state runner-up and earn eight big points for the Elks to vault them to state runner-up status.

Great job, boys!