Johnson finishes eighth at state track meet

For the Magic boys track and field team, getting four kids, and three events, to the state meet was the “cake.”
Anything else was just icing on top of it.
Sam Johnson added some icing down at the state meet with an eighth place finish in the 400-meter dash, earning the junior his second All-State honor in two years.
The 4×200 relay didn’t make finals, but they did add a little icing as well, lowering their school record time, allowing three seniors to go out with their best effort.
On Friday, a day for preliminary races at the Class AA State Meet, the 4×200 was the first to race.
“We knew we had a tough hill to climb,” said Coach Dave Wik.
“Being out in lane eight, there is a big target on your back.”
The Magic ran well. Collin Scherber, Michael Witschen, Mahdi Mire and Johnson turned in a career-best performance, coming in at 1:31.73, nearly .4 seconds under their record-setting effort at sections.
At sections, the record was more than enough. At state, it wasn’t enough.
The Magic finished sixth in their heat, but 15th overall, failing to qualify for finals.
“Getting the relay to state was a big goal,” said Wik. “That relay was a high note for how they improved. It was a nice way to end their careers, at the state meet.”
Wik also mentioned how the relay was a testament to the hard work and dedication of three seniors who helped lower the time and climb the standings throughout the year.
It was also a testament to one outstanding junior, Johnson, who had two more of his own races to run after the 4×200 concluded Friday.

Sam Johnson springs out of the blocks during the preliminary heat of the 200-meter dash. Johnson finished eighth in the 400-meter run. (Photo by Bill Jones)

Sam Johnson springs out of the blocks during the preliminary heat of the 200-meter dash. Johnson finished eighth in the 400-meter run. (Photo by Bill Jones)

In his final race, the 200-meter dash, Johnson did not qualify for finals. He finished in 22.95, coming in seventh in his heat and 20th overall.
In between, Johnson ran his best event, the 400-meter dash.
Wik says that Johnson’s strength, and his ability to maintain top end speed longer than others make him such a strong 400 runner.
“He can be pretty stubborn,” added Wik. “He’s not willing to give in to anyone.”
Those qualities were on display Friday.
Johnson qualified for finals by finishing seventh in prelims, running the race in a time of 49.30. That time was good for third place in his heat.
Johnson entered Saturday with big goals, the junior was aiming to shave just more than a tenth of a second of his personal best of 49.11, as he looked to set the school record. He also wanted a top-five finish.
The standout junior turned in a good race during the Saturday finals, but learned quickly that their is a big difference at state between good and best.
Johnson finished the race in a time of 49.74 in the finals, finishing in eighth place, just one-hundreth of a second out of seventh.
The winner of the race, from East Ridge, came in with a blazing 47.56, good for an all-time state record.
Johnson came out of the gates strong in the finals, according to Wik, but it might have been a little too strong. They set their sights on the guy in lane three, two lanes out from Johnson’s lane one, and he ended up running to a second place finish. Johnson appeared to tire out slightly after the quick start, getting caught by a couple competitors on the final stretch.
“He didn’t run as fast as I think he was hoping to run,” said Wik, before adding “But he had a fantastic season. Hopefully this is just a little more motivation for next year.”
By way of getting into the finals, Johnson earned himself a second All-State honor, a relatively rare accomplishment. He also improved on his ninth-place finish from last year. And with four seniors finishing in front of him, the junior showed that next year could be even sweeter, as he just might add more icing to the cake.
Johnson was awarded once more at the state meet, as he was named Academic All-State, along with Witschen, Alex Hoglund, Lowell Laudert and Levi Bican. To be eligible for Academic All-State, athletes need a GPA above 3.6 and have accomplished at least one of the following performance criteria: qualify for the state meet, earn All-Conference or qualify for the State Honor Roll.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at clay.sawatzke@ecm-inc.com

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