11W Heart of It All Classic Finals: The Wright Brothers vs. Jesse Owens

By Jason Priestas on April 7, 2014 at 10:35 am
The Wright brothers face Jesse Owens in the finals of 11W's Heart of It All Classic

UPDATE 4/8 – 7:55 a.m. At midnight Monday, when the poll was to close, the Wright brothers held a 381-380 lead over Jesse Owens, so that calls for a 24-hour runoff. Voting for the championship of the 11W Heart of It All Classic will now end at 12 a.m., Wednesday, April 9.

Five weeks after we put out the call to crown the greatest Ohioan, we're down to the championship. From 64 of the finest sons and daughters of Ohio, Jesse Owens and the Wright brothers have emerged and your vote will settle this debate, once and for all.

Updated HOIAC Bracket | Results by Round

The people you voted not Ohio's greatest is ridiculously impressive: Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Bob Hope, Steven Spielberg, Paul Newman, Jack Nicklaus, Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong and others are names that will be remembered forever. That the champion of this event won't come from that list says everything you need to know about the greatness of Ohio.

The Wright brothers have been nothing short of dominant. Although just a No. 3 in the Business & Science Region, they've handled all comers – save for one – with at least 75% of the vote. That comer? Thomas Edison, the No. 1 seed in the region – and the Wrights still knocked him out in the Elite 8 with nearly 60% of the vote.

Ditto with Owens. His list of vanquished foes reads: the guy that broke baseball's color barrier, perhaps the greatest basketball player to come out of the state of Ohio, the patron saint of Ohio State football, Sports Illustrated's Male Athlete of the 20th Century and the general that won the United States Civil War. Only Grant closed within striking distance but Owens made his free throws at the end for a comfortable win.

The Wright Brothers

Thanks to these two brothers from Dayton, the state of Ohio can slap "Birthplace of Aviation" on anything it damn well pleases (and it does).

RD Opponent Vote
1 No. 14 Roger Ailes 97%
2 No. 11 William Procter 94%
S16 No. 2 John D. Rockefeller 76%
E8 No. 1 Thomas Edison 58%
FF No. 1 Bob Hope 84%

Working out of their bicycle shop, the Wright brothers designed and built the world's first successful airplane and later made the first controlled, powered and "sustained heavier-than-air human flight."

The first recorded flight took place on December 17, 1903 at Kill Devil Hills on North Carolina's Outer Banks. At 10:35 a.m., Orville flew the Wright Flyer I for 12 seconds and a distance of 120 feet. They would fly three more times that day, with the final flight in the air for 59 seconds and 852 feet.

The account of their flight was hotly contested – particularly in France – but the Wrights had demonstrated controlled and powered flight. While Europe was caught up in building what were essentially rocket-powered gliders, the Wrights gave the pilot a means to steer. That three-axis control is still the standard for fixed-wing aircraft to this day.

Jesse Owens

The "Buckeye Bullet," as Jesse Owens was known, was the most dominant track and field athlete of the 20th century.

RD Opponent Vote
1 No. 16 Branch Rickey 98%
2 No. 8 Jerry Lucas 95%
S16 No. 4 Woody Hayes 72%
E8 No. 2 Jack Nicklaus 73%
FF No. 1 Ulysses S. Grant 59%

As a senior at Cleveland's East Technical High School, Owens burst onto the scene after tying the world record of 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard dash. As a senior in high school.

Two years later, Owens was winning his first four NCAA championships as a sprinter for Ohio State. He would equal the feat the following year, in 1936, winning four more NCAA championships. The eight individual NCAA championships stand as a record that hasn't come close to being broken.

Later that summer, Owens competed for the United States at the Summer Olympics in Berlin. After taking gold in the 100, 200, the long jump and the 4x100 relay, the Nazi myth of Aryan racial superiority became something of a joke in athletics.

Owens is best remembered for what most consider to be the greatest 45 minutes in the history of sport. At Ferry Field in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for the 1935 Big Ten Championships, Owens set three world records and equaled another. A plaque – on the University of Michigan campus – commemorating his performance stands outside the field today. Let that sink in.

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