Johnson cruises in 800, 1,600 meters at KU relays
Krehbiel wins 110 hurdles at Eudora
Casey Johnson has made it evident throughout his senior season that he is the man to beat when it comes to high school distance running in Kansas.
But after becoming the first high school runner in about 20 years to win both the 800 and 1,600 meter runs at last weekend's Kansas Relays, the Wildcat's dominance has spilled beyond the borders of the Jayhawk state.
Johnson held off a throng of runners from Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska in pulling off the double win.
The 800-meter field that Johnson faced included Nebraska class A runner-up Chris Clymer of Lincoln North Star and Kansas 3A runner-up Andy Nichols of Kansas City Christian. Class A is the biggest classification in Nebraska.
In the mile race, Johnson edged the Missouri Class 4 winner of a year ago, Tim Cornell of Columbia Hickman. The field also included the third-place runner in Missouri Class 2 of a year ago in Ryan Cornelius of Lafayette County.
"My goal coming into the meet was to win both races," Johnson said. "I knew I was going to be facing some tough competition. I'm just glad that I was able to pull it off."
Johnson's golden weekend began on Friday when he won the 800 -- his specialty -- in a personal best time of 1 minute, 53.52 seconds. The defending 800 4A champion in that race set the state's best time of the year while knocking off defending 6A champion Jason Collett of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Johnson decided once Collett took the lead he would stay with him. Then at about the 500-meter point, Johnson took control of the race.
"I just went as fast as I could," Johnson said of passing the Aquinas runner. "Your first thought when you get passed From page 1B
like that is that the other guy is just faster than you are. I know that's what I think when it happens to me. But I knew I needed to keep going."
Disaster almost struck for Johnson Saturday in the 1,600. During the first lap he found himself boxed in on the inside rail. Johnson knew he had to make a move. He did so on the second trip around the track.
"I told the guy next to me that I was going through," Johnson said. "He could either let me through or go with me, but I was making my move. He chose to go with me."
Johnson stayed behind the brave runner until the home stretch of the third lap. Then he started to pull away. The Wildcat said he tried to pace his run the remainder of the race.
"I tried to increase the pace as much as I could without dying out," he said. "Then I sprinted all out for about the last 150 meters."
Besides the gold medals he received, a meet official presented him the shell casings that came from the starter's pistol used by former Wichita East and Kansas University running great Congressman James Ryun.
Ryun, the first high school runner in the United States to break the four-minute barrier 40 years ago, was the starter for Johnson's races and requested that the official make sure Johnson received the souvenirs.
"He's one of my big idols," Johnson said. "Anybody associated with distance running growing up compares themselves to him."
As for the casing, Johnson said he'd keep it with all of the medals he's won throughout his career.
Johnson now ranks in the top 15 nationally with his personal best timing of 1:53.6 in the 800. He ranks 13th in Kansas in the 400 with a time of 51 seconds. He has the fastest times in the 800 (1:53.6) and 1,600 (4:22.9) in the Sunflower State. Johnson was clocked at a fourth-best Kansas time of 9:43.9 in the 3,200.
De Soto freshman Roxanne Grizzle was the only other Wildcat trackster to finish in the top 10 when she placed third in the javelin with a throw of 129 feet, 4 inches.
Jackie Goleman placed 22nd in the high jump by clearing 4-9. She was also credited with the 30th best time in the 300 hurdles with a time of 51.28.
Melissa Roberts placed 23rd in the 1,600 and 24th in the 800 with times of 5:33.49 and 2:34.98, respectively. Roberts finished 14th with an 11:56.16 clocking in the 3,200 and then teamed with Carrie Wilbert, Morgan Frehe and Katie James as they finished with the 14th best time of the meet 10:23.07 in the 3,200 relay.
The De Soto athletes who didn't qualify for the Kansas Relays made their way Friday to the Cardinal Relays in Eudora.
Donnie Gardner, Lucas Slater, Alex Wayne and Adam Justice teamed up to win the 3,200-meter relay. Gardner was the second-best athlete in both the 1,600 and 3,200. Adam Wilcox placed fifth in the 1,600, while Tanner McNamara finished fifth in the 3,200.
Luke Krehbiel was the top 110-meter hurdler at the Eudora meet and the second best hurdler at 300 meters. He teamed with Justin Bartholomew, Devin Tenney and Josh Oberhelman to take third in the 1,600 relay. Oberhelman came in sixth in the 400.
On the girls side, Christina Davis and Becca Davis medaled in the discus. Kaitlin Johnson placed in the 300 hurdles. Michaela Frehe finished with a medal in the 3,200 and Lauren Karnitz earned medals in the 400 and 800.