There they were. At it once again.
In the very event that both have monopolized together all season long.
This time the stakes were higher. This time it was at regionals, with a trip to the Division I state track meet on the line. At the end, there was never a doubt in anyone's mind who's witnessed them in action this year what the result would be.
Mansfield Senior high jumpers Amil Upchurch and Maurice Ware finished first and second, respectively, in the high jump at the Findlay regional Friday to qualify for next week's state meet in Columbus.
"It's just an honor," said Mansfield Senior coach Tyree Shine. "To be honest with you, I'm just humbled. Grateful. Thankful to have two of the best jumpers in the state going to the state this year. That's a blessing. God be the glory."
"It's a proud moment," said Upchurch. "I'm really amped up. I know Maurice is, too. We've been looking forward to this all season long."
Ware, who didn't qualify for state last year while Upchurch did, was happy to join his teammate this time around.
"I'm really excited to go with my teammate because last year he had made it and I didn't," said the regional runner-up. "It kinda upset me, but I was proud of him. But this year, it's nothing like a shareable moment with your teammate."
Early on, it was apparent the rest of the field would have to match both jump for jump. As the bar rose higher, Upchurch and Ware upped their level and, toward the end, they were going toe-to-toe once more. Even the onlookers had their eyes glued closely on the leaping exploits of the duo.
It was an all-too-familiar sight.
"You know, it's been like that all season long," said Upchurch, who expressed that he was dealing with an injury in his lower back while competing. "Nothing's different. We're best friends. We're rivals. We're teammates. We love each other and we're for each other."
"That's a dream," said Shine, on his two leapers placing first and second in another meet. "That doesn't happen often. It's not the first time in history but it's the first time in Mansfield Senior's history that I know of. All I know is that they're going. We're going to enjoy the moment, and we're looking to go one-two next week."
Both Upchurch and Ware cleared 6-foot-6 for their highest jump. With Upchurch having fewer misses while clearing 6-5 than Ware, that gave him the edge in claiming the regional title.
"I know this means a lot to coach," said Ware, soaking in the moment. "We haven't been jumping our best the last few meets but to come here, for us both to clear 6-6 and be one-two in a meet like this with good competition, means a lot."