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COLUMBUS -- The medal stand is a study in human emotion. Some soon-to-be medal-winners grin broadly. Others hide a smile. Some talk a bit. Others sit stone-faced.
Then, there was Streetsboro's KeShun Jones and Myron Jones.
After both finished in the top eight of the Division II boys 400-meter dash, they joked like they were back in the Streetsboro Dairy Queen they frequent after school. Right there on the medal stand, the two chatted and laughed with some of their fellow competitors -- after a bare-footed Myron Jones finally made it to the medal stand, that is. With the other seven guys already ready for their names to be announced, Myron Jones ambled out with an amiable smile on his face. The good humor never faded for the junior-senior pair.
"This is my big brother, man," KeShun Jones said proudly, motioning over to Myron. "He got the energy. I got the energy. We just feed off of each other. It's just a fun experience to be around him. He's just cool. We're brothers for life."
And that's the thing about Streetsboro. As much as the school on Portage County's northwest border became known around Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium for Dakari Carter and his three state championships in the 100-meter dash from 2014 to 2016, the Rockets pride themselves more than anything on their closeness. The words "brother" and "sister" dominate conversation, even more than on most teams.
"We go from Dairy Queen after practice to sleeping over at each other's houses," Myron Jones said. "We're all just one big brotherhood -- football, out of school, whatever, no matter the sport, we got each other."
Never was that brotherhood more apparent than this weekend. Even with Carter, arguably the greatest runner in Portage County history, not making the 100-meter dash finals due to an injured hamstring, the well-balanced Rockets shone. Senior Savannah Nevels placed fourth in the 200-meter dash, classmate Milton Wilson fell just shy of the medal stand in the discus, the Rockets' 4x100 girls relay placed fifth in the state and the duo of Jones and Jones was brilliant in the 400.
"It's competitive," Nevels said. "It's very positive. We always uplift each other. Whenever one of us does bad, because you don't do well all the time, if you just do okay, we're still like, 'You did well today.' If you're down on yourself, we're definitely here for you to talk you back up."
Nevels said those pep talks helped her out this weekend in Columbus, as she made her first-ever appearance in the state finals. She certainly looked uplifted, as she closed strong in both of her races Saturday.
The Bowling Green commit garnered fourth in the 200-meter dash with her time of 24.89, her second straight race under 25 seconds, after she was in the 25-second range throughout 2016.
She also helped the Rockets' 4x100 relay finish fifth with a time of 49.72 -- and ensured their place in the finals with a dynamite close to net Streetsboro the ninth and final spot by .03 of a second.
"I really wanted them to get the experience to go to the state finals," Nevels said of her teammates.
Myron Jones, a senior, was equally clutch, eking out the last qualifying spot for finals Friday with his time of 50.23. He then shaved .33 of a second off his time to earn his place on the medal stand.
"His work ethic is crazy," KeShun Jones said. "He's the humblest person I ever met in my life. He's genuine. He lifts people up. He never lets you down. He's a great big brother."
KeShun Jones shone as well.
After not running his sophomore year, Jones capped a head-turning junior season with his third-place finish in the 400-meter dash (48.25 seconds).
"He's the best," Myron Jones said. "He's got the best work ethic, one of the best work ethics I've ever seen in my life. He's just really improved. He just really pushes me and I push him."
While Wilson was a little disappointed not to make it to the discus finals, with his preliminary-best throw of 149-08 just four inches shy of earning him three more throws in the finals, the senior had everything in the world to be proud of. On the biggest stage of his career, making his first state appearance, Wilson produced the second-best throw of his life -- in a meet.
"I was pretty excited," Wilson said. "It's not the performance I was looking for, but I'm very happy that I made it out to the state meet."
Rockets throws coach Anthony Nolfi said Wilson's throws used to flutter in the air, falling in the double-digits. Every year, he has gone up by 20 feet.
"When I first started, I was pretty bad," Wilson said. "I'm not going to lie."
Nolfi attributed Wilson's remarkable growth to his willingness to try anything.
"His best skill is that he's coachable," Nolfi said. "There are some athletes I talk to and the message goes over their heads. Milton, from day one, his eyes locked on and (he did) everything I've asked him to do."
And while throwers are always somewhat separated from sprinters, literally throwing across the street Saturday, Wilson felt that Rockets' bond behind him.
"It goes both ways for everyone," Wilson said. "We're here to support and love. We share our own knowledge on everything with each other. We're basically here to pick each other up when we're all down."