Mario Heslop cemented his legacy in New Jersey as one of the greatest sprinters in state history with a breathtaking and electrifying performance at Saturday's 51st NJSIAA Meet of Champions at Northern Burlington High School.
The senior at Franklin repeated as 100-meter dash champion in 10.53, and came back to blast a 20.74 to win the 200m dash, the second fastest time (F.A.T., all conditions) ever run in state history. You can watch his 200m race right here.
Heslop's 100m/200m double gave the North Carolina A&T-bound star eight M of C titles in his remarkable career! Heslop, the New Balance National champ in the 200 this past indoor season with a state record 20.90, won the 100 and 400 at the M of C last spring, and won the 200 and 400 at the state indoor M of C the past two years.
Unfortunately, for the second time in two weeks, the wind gauge has become part of Heslop's pursuit of state history.
The wind gauge failed to get a reading on Heslop's 20.74 in the 200 on Saturday. It was listed as NWI (no wind information). The only track races that use a wind gauge at this meet are the 100m, 200m, and high hurdles. Any wind reading over 2.0 meters per second is considered wind-aided.
Heslop's 20.74 is well under the wind legal meet and state record of 20.93 set by Danny Johnson of Rahway at the 2001 M of C. Johnson had wind-legal 0.5 wind reading when he ran his 20.93.
However NJ MileSplit has a policy of not recognizing performances for our official state record purposes unless there is a legal wind-reading. There is a verified wind legal state record list for runs under 2.0 mps and an all-conditions list under which NWI or wind aided performances fall. Heslop is now second all-time on the 200m all-conditions list.
Bill Bruno, the NJSIAA Track and Field Tournament Director, said the matter will be discussed during the NJSIAA''s end of the season track and field meeting this Tuesday at the NJSIAA headquarters in Robbinsville.
For comparisons sake, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) doesn't recognize times for national records without wind readings. The NFHS rule book states that any performances submitted for national record purposes must include a wind reading to be considered.
Jack Shepard's High School Track book, regarded as the official national record book for high school track and field, lists all performances without wind readings in the 100m, 200m, high hurdles, long jump as wind-aided.
Heslop's 200 heat was the only race that didn't have a wind reading among all the races that required a wind gauge. Every other race had a wind reading of 0.0.
Why was there no wind reading in Heslop's race?
Jim Rutzler, the head timer at the meet, wasn't sure how it happened, but said he didn't think Heslop's time was wind-aided.
"Every other 200 race had a 0.0 reading, and I don't feel the wind was any different in his race,''' said Rutzler.
Rutzler also said the steady wind all day at the track was a crosswind, which is why the readings were all 0.0.
Two weeks ago, Heslop ran 10.33 to win the Central Jersey, Group 4 100m dash at Howell High School, under the state wind-legal record of 10.35. But a wind gauge wasn't used at that meet, so the time wasn't recognized as a state record. Instead, it's listed as the No. 3 all-conditions time in state history.
Now on the all-conditions 200m list Heslop's 20.74 is second only behind Antonio Tarantino who ran a wind-aided 20.51 (+2.8) at New Balance Nationals Outdoor in 2018.
"I would be mad if they took this one away, too,'' said Heslop. "I don't think it (the wind) was a factor,'' said Heslop.
Danny Johnson, who had a state record of 10.30 in the 100m at the 2001 M of C negated because of a 2.1 wind reading, was at the meet and offered his opinion.
"He (Heslop) is a great athlete and it was just a matter of time before he ran something like this,'' said Johnson, whose 20.93 was the first automatic time recorded under 21.00 in state history."I congratulate him on a great performance. It's not up to me to decide if it should be a record or not. That's for someone else to decide. It is what it is.''
Johnson went on to say that "if this was an NCAA or USATF meet it wouldn't count as a record without a wind reading.''
While this matter is sure to be debated in the court of public opinion, there is one thing that's indisputable, Mario Heslop he will go down as a NJ track and field legend-one of the greatest of all-time!!!