Johnson’s state showing climaxes stellar season

by Greg Ceilley

All the time and effort that Plymouth junior Haley Johnson put in this year was rewarded as she enjoyed an outstanding track season in distance running.

Johnson capped off the season by winning two medals in last week’s Division 1 girls meet in La Crosse. She earned a silver with a runner-up finish in the 3,200-meter run and medaled in the 1,600 with a fifth place.

She came up just shy of first in the 3,200 but broke her own school record with an excellent time of 10 minutes, 53.23 seconds.

“I would’ve loved to take first but wasn’t disappointed finishing second. I was extremely happy because my ultimate goal was to break 11 minutes in the 3,200,” said Johnson.

Johnson was seeded 13th in the 3,200 (based on her sectional time of 11:19.15) going into the state meet. She pointed out the keys to her strong 3,200 performance.

“I definitely needed to get out of the pack [early in the race]. I got out really fast,” Johnson recalled.

“I was really excited with my kick at the end. I almost caught her.”

Liz Berkholtz of Sun Prairie won the D-1 3,200 in 10:52.76.

Johnson thought she struggled in the 1,600 because she got caught up in the outside of lane two. However, she was happy to be able to medal. Johnson passed runners on the final lap in both races.

“I was happy that I was able to get on the podium [for a medal in 1,600]. My ultimate goal was to break five minutes,” Johnson said.

She said her struggles in Friday’s 1,600 motivated her for Saturday’s 3,200.

“I was really happy with my season. I felt a lot stronger this season. I had more endurance because I put in more mileage this year,” Johnson.

“I was extremely proud of my team [at state]. It was so fun being there, and everyone was supporting each other,” she said.

“The heat and wind made this event difficult for all competitors. Haley ran well on Friday. She did get boxed in for a time and that hindered her but she had a great charge at the end to capture fifth place,” said Panther head coach Jay Grosshuesch.

“On Saturday in the 3,200 she ran a great tactical race, getting out with the lead group and again she showed a gutsy finish to place second. She dropped about nine seconds off of her school record which is a great way to end her season.

“Haley has been at state for five individual races in her three- year career and she has placed in the top five in every one of those races,” Grosshuesch said.

Senior Ryan Mugan of Howards Grove was a place-winner in the D-2 boys 3,200 race with a seventh. He was ranked 10th coming into the state meet. Mugan took 11th in the 1,600 after being seeded 12th.

“Ryan performed well. He moved up in the rankings in both races,” said Tiger head coach Tyler Biederwolf.

“Heat was a major factor for all of the runners. It was 98 degrees Friday for the 3,200. It was fantastic that he could improve his seeding, considering the heat.

“The state meet was a good climax to his season,” Biederwolf said

Coach Grosshuesch was proud of all the PHS state competitors. The Panthers’ other state participants included: girls meet – Danielle Holzer in the pole vault and Jenni Rathsack, 200 dash; and boys – 3,200 relay with Logan Ryan, Luke Schmidt, Parker Kastelic and Sam Zwick; Craig Grosshuesch, 300 hurdles; and the 800 relay team of Evan Guell, Dylan Tripoli, Hayden Potts and Brett Erdmann.

“Our athletes had a great state meet. They competed at a very high level and we are very proud of their efforts,” said the PHS coach.

“Our athletes represented our school and team extremely well on a big stage.

“Our boys 800 relay team had great handoffs and they lowered their school-record mark with their race. Our 3,200 relay team ran well. It was fun to watch them compete well in the fast heat and run a strong time,” coach Grosshuesch said.

“Craig had a nice race. He hit the first hurdle but he finished real well and got back into rhythm. Danielle jumped well.”

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