MASSILLON — Zion Matlock took the baton. All he had was 100 meters in front of him and the finish line.
Nothing else between the Liberty High School senior and a regional championship in 43.53 seconds Friday at the Division III Massillon Perry Regional track and field meet.
Liberty had finished second in the 4×100 relay at the district meet the week before to Crestview, an All-American Conference Blue Tier rival. Beating the speedy Rebels seemed out of reach for the Leopards.
“We wanted to beat Crestview,” Matlock said. “We’ve never beat them before. Beating them (Friday) was a big accomplishment.”
Liberty senior Justin Cizmar knew he, Matlock and juniors Braylen Stredrick and Migel Burgess had been progressing throughout the season. Friday was one of two pinnacles the team wanted to hit, working as a fluid unit with smooth handoffs.
In the stands, you can find longtime coach Jay Cripe, the reason why this team has been so successful on and off the track.
The All-American Conference is an OHSAA-sanctioned league, created in 2008 as the result of the merger between the Trumbull Athletic Conference and the Metro Athletic Conference in Ohio. The league has 21 different member schools, with 17 sports offered throughout fall, winter and spring sports seasons.