Heard caps untouchable track career at Chippewa Valley

Team takes runner-up at D1 states

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published June 14, 2024

 Clinton Township Chippewa Valley senior Shamar Heard holds up the state championship sign around his teammates on June 1 at East Kentwood High School.

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley senior Shamar Heard holds up the state championship sign around his teammates on June 1 at East Kentwood High School.

Photo provided by Chippewa Valley Athletics


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — It’s been an indescribable high school track career for Clinton Township Chippewa Valley senior Shamar Heard, but he ended it the only way he knew how.

A four-time Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state champion and a state qualifier every season entering this year, Heard, a University of Tennessee commit, had a resume already recognized as one of the most accomplished track athletes in Michigan.

But on June 1 at East Kentwood High School, in his final state finals race, Heard figured he might as well add to his already solidified legacy.

“For the school season, it was really preparing for U20 (Nike Outdoor Nationals), and I wanted to go out with a bang for Michigan because I truly believe that we won’t see another person like me for some time,” Heard said. “I hope we do because it would be great for the state of Michigan because people don’t look at us like a high school heavy track state like Florida, Georgia and Texas.”

Heard delivered on his promise with state titles in the 200- and 400-meter while teaming up with seniors Chris Estell, Aaron Franz and Noah Morris to win the state title in the 4x400 relay, leading Chippewa Valley to its second straight state runner-up finish. Heard, Morris, and Estell also competed alongside sophomore Will Jones-Terrell in the 4x200 relay to finish state runner-up, earning all-state honors.

Jones-Terrell was the only underclassman to be part of an all-state relay team for Chippewa Valley with its senior-only group taking the state title, but Chippewa Valley head coach Terry Wilson said he delivered this season when the team needed him.

“Will earned his spot,” Wilson said. “He got thrust into that spot at a competition out in Farmington. He had been running good 200 times before that. Him coming off a knee injury his freshman year, we were still working on that through the season. I didn’t feel comfortable with him taking the baton, so we put him at the first leg because it’s the easiest leg to learn, and he ran a really good split at that relay. Everybody felt confident in him from that point on, and he fed off that confidence. Once he showed them he could run, they kind of took him under their wing a little bit and gave him pointers on how to run the race.”

Morris turned in an individual all-state performance in the 200-meter with an eighth-place finish while Estell fell just short with a ninth-place finish in the 400-meter. Junior Kennedy Gatlin (100-meter) and Mia Barnett (100-meter hurdles) qualified for states on the girls side.

Chippewa Valley’s senior group completely revitalized the track and field program in its four-year tenure.

The first season together, the group took 28th at states with a hunger to improve and show others Chippewa Valley is more than just a football school.

By 2022, the Big Reds were the third-best team in Division 1 track and field behind Heard and his 100- and 200-meter championship wins.

As a member of the football team up until his senior year, Heard said a primary focus of his throughout his high school career was helping Chippewa Valley track and field receive the same type of recognition the football team carries.

From his freshman season to now, Heard said it’s a new-look program.

“It’s completely different,” Heard said. “We were a really good football school and good basketball program, and now we have solidified that we can also have a good track program as well. Track needs more attention. That was really the main goal. I just wanted track to be a thing that people enjoy watching.”

You don’t just replace a senior group like this overnight, but Jones-Terrell, junior Eric Thomas Jr., junior Jailen Thomas, and freshman Duayne Johnson-Joplin, all state qualifiers this year, will take it upon themselves to continue what the seniors started.

They have massive shoes to fill, but it’ll be more about the talented returning athletes finding their own footing and building their own legacy, rather than trying to replicate the graduating group.

“They (the seniors) did a lot for our school and a lot for our program,” Wilson said. “Honestly, we’ll never be able to replace them.”