Johnson harvests gold at Tonganoxie
As De Soto High School's Casey Johnson caught his breath after finishing the 3,200-meter run at Friday's 4A track and field regional in Tonganoxie, teammate Morgan Frehe greeted him with a two-word summation of his day's performance.
"You're awesome," Frehe said, repeating words just uttered by teammate Adam Wilcox.
Frehe and Wilcox were the first of a parade of teammates, competitors and track officials who sought out Johnson to congratulate him after his last race and win of the day. The senior also finished first in the 400, 800 and 1,600, scoring 40 points for the Wildcat boys and helping the team to a second-place regional finish.
Making the feat even more impressive was the fact that the Wildcat won the first of his four races at 7:20 p.m. and finished his fourth event at 9:17 p.m. Competing in the four races in just less than two hours, Johnson covered 15 laps around the track.
The senior Wildcat had 49 minutes of rest and recovery between the 1,600 and 400, 27 minutes between the 400 and 800 and 31 minutes between the 800 and 3,200.
"That's really pretty impressive," Wildcat coach Chris McAfee said. "What makes that quadruple sweep so amazing is that it features the four longest races in track and field."
In the three distance races, Johnson ran near the front of the pack before finishing with a kick that left his competitors vying for second.
Following the meet, Johnson struggled to find the correct words to describe the experience. But he did come up with something.
"It was fabulantastic," he joked. "I had a great day today. I knew I had a chance to do well, because I felt pretty good out there. My goal going into the meet was to make sure I qualified for state. Then if I felt good enough to go for the win, I would do that."
Now that he has qualified for the state meet in all four events, Johnson has his sights set on how well he can perform in Wichita. He said he thought he had just as good a chance of at winning at state as he did in Tonganoxie because the schedule will be less of a factor.
"The (state meet) schedule will work more in my favor than it did at regionals," he said. "I will have more time to rest between races. But, at the same time, the competition will be even better."
Johnson is in good shape to win three golds at the meet. He owns the top time in 4A in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 this season. His biggest challenge will come in the 400, in which he posted the fourth-best time.
If Johnson goes on to win the four events this weekend he will duplicate the feat of someone known more for her basketball accomplishments. Claflin's Jackie Stiles is the only Kansas prep athlete to win all four events at a state meet.
Stiles won all four events in 1996 during her junior season. In 1997, the former NCAA basketball player at Southwest Missouri State nearly repeated the feat. But she fell short when she collected a silver medal in the 400 during her final season of prep competition.
Stiles did pull off another four- win state meet during her sophomore year when she won the 800, 1,600, 3,200 and triple jump. In all, she has 14 gold medals and two silvers in four years of state meet competition. Stiles also won a championship in cross-country and tennis.
Johnson begins his quest to win as many gold medals as possible Saturday when he competes in the 3,200 at 8:30 a.m. He is scheduled to run the 1600 at 2:40 p.m. The boys 400 begins at 5:20 p.m., and the 800 begins at 6:40 p.m.