|This article originally appeared in the "Tobether Again" East Liverpool High School All-Class Reunion, July 4, 1992..|
Who is the greatest athlete to ever come out of East Liverpool High School?
If you believe the words spoken by Sweden's King Gustav V, it would have to be 1988 grad Aric Long. The Swedish King told Jim Thorpe when the latter won the decathlon at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, "Sir, you are the world's greatest athlete!
Aric Long has won three prestigious decathlon titles since enrolling at the University of Tennessee in 1988 on a track scholarship. His first tide of note came in 1989 at Ohio State University when he captured the National TAC Junior championship by scoring 6,908 points in the ten events. This earned Aric a spot on the U.S. team for the Pan American Juniors championships at Sante Fe, Argentina. He took the Juniors crown with 6,659 points while Marco Brito of Brazil was a distant second with 6,024 points.
Aric then became the first ELHS grad ever to win the individual NCAA national championship with a surprise victory in the Division I Track and Field competition staged at Eugene, Ore., in 1991.
Late last month Aric faced the opportunity to prep for the greatest challenge of his young career - a chance to compete in the Olympic Games this summer at Barcelona, Spain. He was seeking one of three decathlon spots on the U.S. team during trials held at New Orleans in June.
He qualified for the trials by placing third and scoring 7,918 points in a meet at Tempe, Ariz., in March.
If Aric makes the Olympic Team, he would be only the second ELHS grad to participate in the Games. Walt Ashbaugh (1947) placed fourth in the triple jump at Helskini in 1952.
THE LONG FAMILY seems to produce nothing but champions.
Shawn Long, Class of 1990, is sporting a championship ring as a member of the Youngstown State University football tam which won the NCAA Division I-AA national title by beating Marshall U. 25-17 last December. Shawn, who also competes in track at YSU, was a defensive back on the grid team.
Larry Long (1987) was the 1986 Bill Booth Award winner, and earned three ELHS varsity letters in both football and basketball. He received an appointment to the U.S. Navy Academy, but transferred to Kent State University where he played football.
All three standouts are the sons of Jackie and Larry Long of Inez Ave.
ARIC AND SHAWN both were notable high jumpers in high school, and placed in the state finals, Shawn winning the 1990 Division One title when he cleared 6 feet 9 inches.
However, Aric went higher in his prep days by going six feet 10 in 1987 when he placed fourth. He took second place the following year at six feet 10. Shawn was fifth in 1989 at six feet eight.
When Shawn won the 1990 title he became just the second Potter to win a state championship. Kim Augur was the first when she won the 400 meter run in 1983.
Aric Long and Brian Brophy made track history in 1991 as juniors when they became only the second set of collegiate teammates to reach the 8,000-point barrier. Scoring in the decathlon is based on a table devised to award points on how an athlete performs in each of the ten events over a two-day period.
Brophy (8,030 points) was the No. 1 ranked decathlete as a high schooler, but Aric (an even 8,000 points) admits, "I didn't know what the decathlon was until I got to Tennessee." The 6-foot3, 220-pound Long added, "I'd never seen a javelin and never touched a vault pole before I went to U.T." In winning the NCAA title in 1991, Aric started to gain more attention. "Track & Field News," called the Bible of the sport, ranked Aric seventh in the United States and 27th in the World for 1991.
Dan O'Brien is ranked No. 1 in the world with a wind-aided 8,844 points. He and Dave Johnson are considered strong bets to place in the Olympics.
After finishing sixth with 7,515 points in the 1990 NCAA decathlon, Aric scored 7,916 points in taking the 1991 crown. Aric held the lead at one point on the first day with a tremendous seven foot, 1.75 inch leap worth 973 points. Brophy came in third and U.T.'s Matt Shelton eighth to help the Volunteers win the team championship.
During the recent indoor season, Aric competed in the peritalon and won the Southeastern Conference title in the event with 4,081 points.
The United States has won 10 of the 17 Olympic Games decathlon titles, and two of the champions were visitors to East Liverpool.
Jim Thorpe, who won the event the first time it was held in 1912, was guest speaker at the 1941 football banquet honoring the ELHS and grade school teams.
Bob Mathias, who was just 17 when he captured the 1948 laurels, attended Kiski Prep after graduating from Tulare (Calif.) High School. A teammate at Kiski was Bud Knott of East Liverpool. Mathias, who won the Olympic decathlon a second time in 1952, spent some holidays with Knott here.