Johnson captures 3,200 win

COLUMBUS – Bobby Johnson had a tough decision in front of him.

He knew full well he was one of Division III’s best runners in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runners.

Running the mile and following it up with the 2-mile less than a hour later could’ve meant double gold – or disaster.

Was he going to risk the humid conditions around the OHSAA state track and field meet or drop the 1,600? He chose the latter.

The McDonald High School senior already clocked a 9:17.90 in the 3,200 this season at the Optimist Meet in Austintown more than a month ago. Johnson took second in the 3,200 to state record-holder Kyle Polman of Independence last season by a sizeable 12 seconds.

The McDonald senior took aim at the state title and Polman’s mark on Saturday, and Johnson got one of the two. He won the 3,200 in a time of 9:22.85, which was a little more than 10 seconds off Polman’s record.

“It was definitely a tough decision,” Johnson said. “It was definitely based on my chances I had for going for the record, being 5 seconds off of my PR (personal record). It was a tough decision. It was hot out there. But, if I had to come back and run the 2 mile after the 1 mile, it would’ve been tough. I was satisfied with it. Any time you can come out as a state champion, you can’t argue with that.”

Nor could one argue with the method Johnson got himself through the race. He had a simple saying written on his hand, “Run 4 God & Focus.”

“My faith in God and other motivational things I wrote on my hand got me through this heat,” Johnson said. “The exhaustion that comes in that last few laps of this race and loneliness that comes out there. It gets so hard. When you look back on all your training and all you’ve done and all you have to run through, you can find the motivation a little bit easier.”

Johnson, who is the Division III individual state champion in cross country, won’t take Saturday’s victory for granted.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing and a lot of kids don’t get to experience it and come out of here a state champion,” said Johnson, who is running for Butler University next season. “I’m one of the few kids that came out as a state champion and it’s a an amazing feeling. It’s a blessing.”

MR. SMITH BREAKS SCHOOL RECORD: Mineral Ridge junior Logan Smith placed fifth behind Johnson in the 3,200 with a time of 9:33.41.

“I gave it my all today,” Smith said. “I stuck with the top back and didn’t give up until the end of the race. It felt pretty good.”

He wasn’t alone at state. Mineral Ridge’s 4×100 team of Johnn Bourgoin, Ethan Dukes, Michael Eaton and Tait Rummell took seventh (44.51).

“It feels good to bring the team down here and represent at the state meet,” Smith said.

TWO OF A KIND: Maplewood’s Derek Morrison and Solomon Yoder couldn’t be more pleased with their results from Saturday’s 1,600 and 800 races.

Morrison set a personal record in the 1,600 (4:23.17).

“This is a little toasty, but you can’t ask for much better weather,” Morrison said. “Not much wind. It was a great day.”

Yoder was one of the favorites in the 800, but he was more than happy to take fourth (1:55.84). Gilmour Academy’s Alex Clapacs won in a time of 1:53.05.

“I know coming in I had a better time, but I’m still pretty happy right now being fourth,” Yoder said.

He was happy to know he went to state with Morrison.

“We knew we were going to have a fun day,” Yoder said. “For him to get fifth and me to get fourth, we’re as happy as can be.”