LA CROSSE — Few athletes get a chance to win an individual championship at the WIAA state track. Even fewer become multiple winners.
Clintonville’s Allison Johnson is able to put herself in that select latter company after winning the Division 2 state championship in the girls’ 800 run on Friday at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Johnson finished with a time of 2 minutes, 12.72 seconds, just a second-and-a-half ahead of Dodge/Mineral Point’s Mary Hanson, who took second (2:13.23).
Freedom’s Lauren Peters was third (2:15.51) and Rebecca Van Thiel of Brillion also made the medal stand with a sixth-place time of 2:16.98.
Johnson’s confidence was evident as she held off the solid group of runners, especially in the final 200 meters where she made sure her kick outlasted Peters and Hanson.
Hanson, a senior, also finished second to Johnson last season.
“I was really comfortable with the girls behind Mary Hanson because they were all in my sectional,” Johnson said. “So I was really focused on Hanson, the girl next to me because I knew she was going to push me to run my best time and I was just really looking forward to racing with her. I’m glad I raced with her because it gave us both really great times.”
Johnson said winning the title last year helped quell some of her nerves on Friday.
“I was really super nervous last year because I was only a junior,” she said. “So now I’m really happy that I came out of high school as the state champ again.”
Peters, who also qualified for the 400 finals on Saturday, said she was pleased with how she performed.
“I’m happy with my race and I’m happy I could seal off third place,” Peters said. “And running against Allie is incredible. She’s the best. So it’s just cool and a cool experience to run against her. I was happy to make it here.”
Clintonville assistant track coach/distance Stacy Hohn said she was “extremely satisfied” with Johnson being able to repeat as a state champ.
“She had the potential in her and I believe she has a lot more in her yet,” Hohn said. “From her sophomore year to now, she didn’t have that confidence that she has now. She’s confident to go out there and take the lead right away in the race and do what she needs to do.”
Johnson says it was an interesting week leading to the state meet. She will be heading to Winona State this coming fall to compete in track.
“All my teachers and stuff were like ‘I can’t wait for you to get back and show us your medal’ and I’m like ‘I didn’t win yet,’ ” Johnson said. “So I was so nervous but I had so much support and awesome friends and awesome family behind me. There wasn’t so much pressure behind me, I just knew I had to go run what I could and I knew I could do it.”
–Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or firstname.lastname@example.org ; on Twitter@PCRicardo