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Running into the History Books


Coming into this season, State High sophomore sprinter Jesse Myers hoped to shave a few tenths of a second from his times.


Instead, he sliced a couple of years off his plans.


Myers has had a spring to remember so far, setting school records in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter races. Even more astounding, he established the three marks within 48 hours.


His trio of record-breaking runs not only propelled him into elite company, they fast-forwarded his envisioned progress.


“Those were my goals for the end of my high school career,” he said. “I was definitely excited about it, very surprised. I didn’t expect that.”


Jesse MyersNobody logically would, though claiming sophomore records for each event could have been viewed as an omen. The 400 time fell on April 1 at the Altoona Igloo Invitational, with the 100 and 200 times broken on April 13 against Chambersburg. Myers’ 100 time of 10.63 seconds tied Alex Kenney’s school record from 2010.


Then came history. On April 20 against Altoona at home, Myers turned on the jets for a double shot of speed: a 10.62 in the 100 and a 21.30 in the 200 that broke Kenney’s previous record of 21.42.


Two days later, at the Shippensburg Invitational, Myers finished the 400 in 47.48, knocking Alex Shisler’s 2012 time of 48.49 down to second place.


Now, Myers sits among the best in his events not only statewide — ranked first, third and fourth in the 400, 200 and 100, respectively — but also nationally. Among sophomores, he’s 30th in the 100, 15th in the 200 and fifth in the 400.


“He is among the fastest in the country,” State High track and field head coach Artie Gilkes said.


Framing Myers’ accomplishments another way, Gilkes said that only two others — Ron Dickerson in 1989 and Ryan Lindenberg in 2021 — have been ranked in State High’s all-time top 15 in the 100, 200 and 400 “sprint trifecta.”


As a freshman, Myers showed flashes of greatness, as befitting the son of a standout State High track and field athlete. Dave Myers, Class of 1991, earned a scholarship to the University of Tennessee by virtue of his prowess in the pole vault.


But genetics doesn’t fully explain Jesse Myers’ quantum leap. He credits striving for consistency and following his coaches’ instructions for his dramatic rise.


“I definitely want to do better,” he said. “I think I can keep going, just keep improving.”


So does Gilkes.


Jesse Myers“We see a huge upside of potential for Jesse and not just because of his fast times,” Gilkes said. “He has a blue-collar mentality. He’s never late for practice. If he even seems like he might be late, he messages me. He does everything his event coaches, Jayson Jackson and Cody Love, ask of him. And he always checks in to make sure he’s doing all I expect.”


Myers’ work ethic, Gilkes said, comes with a “very chill and very understated” manner.


“He just punches the clock and does his work,” Gilkes said. “As a matter of fact, he barely celebrated any of these (record-setting) races, except for a smile. I certainly celebrated more than he did. That says something right there about Jesse and about our view of his potential. There’s a lot more in the tank.”


Myers certainly hopes so. Another historic trio would be nice, but he’s not greedy.


“I’ll try to win all three at states,” he said, grinning. “But I’ll take one or two.”


By Chris Rosenblum

Photos and video by Nabil K. Mark

Published May 9, 2023