Cayuga Health Simmons-RockwellTioga State Bank Dandy Mini Marts Valley Sports ReportGUTHRIE SPORTS MED Gannon Associates Williams Auto GroupI-R FCU




Valley Sports Report
CICERO, N.Y. - They say adversity breeds excellence.

For Waverly senior Ralph Johnson, his morning was filled with all kinds of adversity, and his afternoon was nothing but excellence at the New York State Division 2 Track & Field Championships.

The top seed in the Division 2 100-meter dash, the Waverly standout false-started and was disqualified in the finals, missing a chance to stand atop the podium.

For many athletes that could derail their entire day. For Johnson, it motivated him to dominate the field the rest of the day.

Johnson rebounded in the 200-meter dash, winning the D2 title in 21.52 seconds. His time was 0.43 seconds faster than the runner-up in the race.

As it turns out, the D2 win was just the starter as the Wolverines senior came back in the 200-meter federation final and won that as well, crossing the line in 21.64 seconds. Once again, his time was well ahead of the field, as he won by 0.4 seconds — beating everyone else, Division 1 or 2, in the state.

"I kind of used it (the DQ) as fuel," Johnson said. "Obviously it’s not what I wanted. I didn’t want to DQ, but it kind of made me mad. It gave me a lot of fuel to just reset, learn from it, stay relaxed in the blocks, not be too tense. Because, I think I was definitely a little too tense.

"I didn’t really realize it, but you saw it. I jumped out of the blocks, false-started. But, you learn from it. I am honestly kind of glad it happened because I’m probably not going to do that again. I did that at the worst possible place. That’s how I used the DQ to refuel for the 200, so it definitely helped me run well in the 200."

After a DQ in a race that Johnson was the top seed for the finals in, the Waverly star had some thoughts in his head that he had to put aside to focus on the 200.

"It feels great," Johnson said of winning the 200. "I wasn’t sure I was going to get it, but I was trying to convince myself in my head that I had already won, and it turned out I did, so I’m happy with that.

"There were so many thoughts going through my head. Just like the doubt, just everything overwhelming in my head and I was just trying to keep my mental straight."

Midway through the D2 final Johnson still saw someone next to him, so he knew he had to go.

"I came off the curve and he was still with me, so I was like I’ve got to turn it on," Johnson said. That’s what I did."

As he got close to the finish line the Waverly star started to talk to himself as he realized he was on his way to victory.

"I saw in my peripherals no one was next to me so I was like, ‘I’m good,’" Johnson said. "It feels great, it feels amazing."

The federation final was something different. Johnson wasn’t sure he’d really be racing in that race, but after the DQ in the 100 he was ready to go for that race.

"It feels great," Johnson said. "I hadn’t had that before. I did DQ the 100, so I had a lot of gas left in me. I didn’t anticipate running the Fed 1 (100) or 2 (200), but DQing in the 100 kind of woke something up in me and I was like I am just going to go for it and I got it, so I’m happy with that."

In the federation race, the Waverly senior got off to a fast start, pulling away from the field early.

"My D2 start was a little rushed, so I reminded myself to stay patient and it worked," Johnson said.

Waverly coach Dave Hogan

Today was fantastic for everyone who competed," said Hogan. "It was another historic day for Waverly Track & Field.

"We had a rough start, quite literally, with Ralph jumping his start in the 100," he noted. "Ralph then went into his 200 with a bit of redemption on his mind and made it count.

"He was so impressive in the D2 final," he said. "Same thing held true in the Federation Final — he beat the very best in the state pretty handily.

Our staff continues to be in awe of the way he always shows up and performs, even in the face of a minor setback like a false start.

"I can’t remember a set of days where we’ve been more proud as coaches," added Hogan. "The boys represented our school and the Waverly community to the fullest."

The day ended for Johnson as he joined teammates — senior Micah Chandler, and juniors Xavier Watson and Kelsey Keathley — to finish fourth in the federation in the 4x100 relay in 43.13 seconds.

As the only Division 2 school out of the eight teams in the federation race, the Wolverines had a strong showing in the race.

"It was great," Watson said. "We came into it the only D2 school in it, so just to make it was great, but coming in fourth was a big deal."

The Wolverines may have liked an even faster time, but they were happy with the result.

"It was alright, we didn’t do what we wanted to do, but we got there," Keathley said.

"It felt great," Chandler added. "We started off the season at a very consistent speed and it wasn’t until the end of the season we got a lot faster and we are glad we took fourth in the state."

Friday was an interesting one for the Wolverines, as Mother Nature delayed races all day with thunder and lightning delays. Despite that, the Wolverines ran a PR and won the D2 state title.

"It was pretty difficult, but we pushed through it. We ran well (Friday), we PR’d and we are glad we took first in the state meet, too," Watson said. "We didn’t do everything we wanted to when we came here, but it feels good to get the gold."

The Wolverines knew they had to just deal with anything that came at them on Friday.

"Stuff happens, you just have to push through," Keathley said.

"You can’t control the weather, you have to deal with it, adapt," Chandler added.

For the Waverly relay team, going home with a federation medal, and a state title, makes for a good weekend.

"Ever since I was a freshman I was on the 4x1 team, so seeing all the work pay off, it’s a great feeling," Chandler said.

For some members of the relay, the state title is the second one this year after the Wolverines won the football state title in the fall.

"It’s an awesome feeling," Keathley said. "Xavier and I came from winning a state championship in football and now we got gold in track, too. It’s a really nice feeling."


IN PHOTO 1: Waverly’s Ralph Johnson. … PHOTOS BY BRIAN FEES.

Print Friendly Version

You've asked about helping ...
here's your chance. Click HERE