TACOMA – First it was shin splints late last month. Then during prelims Thursday, Nick Johnson of Gonzaga Prep felt a twinge of pain foreign to him.
“It was bad. I tweaked my hip really bad. I went over a hurdle too high,” Johnson said. “I came down and my trail leg pulled up a little bit. I didn’t think I was going to be good for the finals.”
Moments after starting his warm-up Friday, Johnson was smiling.
A few minutes later, it was as if the smile had been painted permanently on his face after Johnson captured the State 4A title in the 110 hurdles in a time of 14.19 seconds during the second day of Star Track XXXIII at Mt. Tahoma HS.
“This is what I’ve been wanting, this was my goal all year,” Johnson said, holding the gold medal that was attached to the blue ribbon around his neck. “This is the one I knew I had a chance all season.”
Johnson iced his hip Thursday evening.
“I’ve been stretching all day to get ready,” Johnson said. “As soon as I went over the first hurdle in (warm-ups), I knew that this was going to be the day. When I got out of the blocks I felt explosive. My hip felt good and my shin was good. I put my head down and went and it paid off.”
Noah Martin of University didn’t feel his best but it was good enough. He won the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 8 inches.
“I felt a little sloppy during the (competition) but I pulled it through,” Martin said.
He missed on three attempts at 6-10, and was declared the winner because of fewer misses.
Martin will raise the bar high next year. He hopes both literally and figuratively.
He wants to exceed 7-0 and defend his title. Not bad for someone who didn’t qualify for state a year ago.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Martin said. “It’s what I’ve worked for all year.”
Lewis and Clark freshman Anna Rodgers was ranked No. 1 in the long jump by a good margin. She finished a disappointing second with a leap of 17-11¾.
At the Pasco Invite last month, Rodgers leaped 19 feet, 1 inch, which vaulted her atop the state heap.
To place second well shy of her personal best left her wondering what happened. Especially considering the state champ won with 18-1¼.
“18-1 – I’ve jumped that so many times before,” Rodgers said, trying to find solace. “I just didn’t do it.”
Rodgers was asked if nerves had an impact.
“I don’t think so,” Rodgers said. “The Pasco Invitational hit me bigger and was important. I don’t know what was wrong. It was just an awful (jumping) day for a lot of people. I didn’t scratch at all but I was behind the board by 5 inches on at least half my jumps. I just couldn’t get it down.”
Then Ferris senior Maegan McCurdy, who took fifth (17-9 1/4), offered some perspective.
“At least you have three more years,” McCurdy said to Rodgers.
“I would be OK with second if the jump that won would have been outstanding,” Rodgers added. “The fact that both Megan and I can jump farther than what the winning jump was, it’s a little upsetting. I guess this summer I’ll work on my approach a lot and my landing – everything.”
Others earning medals were: Jalen Hicks of Ferris took fourth in the triple jump (45-4), a personal best by a foot; Ben Craig of Central Valley took fourth in the 110 hurdles (14.72); and Zach Jensen of Ferris took third in the discus (160-11).
It wasn’t his personal best but Trevor Payne of Mt. Spokane wasn’t complaining.
Payne flung the discus 167 feet to capture a state title. The winning toss came on his first attempt in the finals.
“I had the best week of throwing I’ve had in practice all year,” said Payne, who is headed to the Air Force Academy. “It all came together. I felt real confident on my first throw and it was smooth and easy.”
The experience was much different than it was a year ago when he placed sixth.
“It’s important when it’s your first time at state to get stuff out of your system,” he said. “I was very nervous last year.”
Payne wanted to reach 180-0.
“It was disappointing that way but the time will come,” he said. “I’m happy with this for now. Winning state was my goal all year.”
Payne competes in the shot put today.
“I’m just concentrating on team points now,” Payne said. “We need as many points as we can get because we’ve got a chance to win a team title.”
Jacob Barnes of Mt. Spokane took third in the javelin (186-9). The Wildcats lead with 26 points over Bishop Blanchet (18) going into the final day.
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