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Sara Johnson peaked at the perfect time.
Well, actually, the Tallmadge junior long jumper hoped to have one last successful leap in her at the Division I state track and field meet at The Ohio State University's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.
Johnson qualified for the state meet May 26 with a third-place leap of 16 feet, 8.75 inches at the Austintown-Fitch regional meet. That was a big improvement over her 11th-place leap of 15-10.25 there a year ago.
"Sara's goal from the beginning of the season was to qualify for the state meet," Lady Blue Devils head coach Mike Srodawa said. "This was definitely the next step for her. She's just a heck of an athlete.
"Her first jump in the prelims was really good. At the time, it put her into first place. At the regional level, they're all good jumpers and a couple girls passed her. But she had solid jumps going through the finals."
Although she has jumped farther many times this season, Johnson's performance was top-notch.
"The pit at Austintown is very hard to jump at," she said. "Most of the time, they have a lot of sand in there, so it's like you're kind of jumping uphill, so I had to really focus on my technique.
"With the long jump, a lot of people think you only have to jump far, which isn't the case. You have to jump up first to go farther, so getting that height is key. To get that height, you have to drive your knee and just make sure you pick your feet up."
Johnson attributed her success this season to hard work and good coaching.
"I've improved as the season has gone along," she said. "Every meet I've jumped farther for the most part. My coach has come up with a lot of new, good drills."
Also qualifying for the state meet May 24 was senior Vanessa Lane in the high jump with a third-place leap of 5-4.
The top four athletes in each event and top four relay teams advanced to the state meet, which was scheduled for June 2 and 3.
Lane was also set to compete in Columbus June 3, but results were not available at press time.
The top eight athletes in each event and top eight relay teams scored team points and earned All-Ohio honors.
Overall at the Fitch regional meet, Tallmadge finished in a tie with Massillon Perry for 17th place out of 38 teams with 15 points.
Twinsburg won the competition with 60 points and Solon (53) and Nordonia (42) placed second and third, respectively.
Senior Brittney Harris concluded her career with a sixth-place time of 15.23 seconds in the 100-meter hurdles.
The Tallmadge boys team finished in a tie with Cleveland John Adams and Uniontown Lake for 37th place. All three teams scored three points.
Canton GlenOak won the 42-team competition with 58 points and Mentor Lake Catholic (56) and Canton McKinley (47.5) took second and third, respectively.
Junior Blake Bockus captured sixth in the shot put with a throw of 49-9.25.
Sophomore Lucca Passarelli finished 11th with a leap of 6-2 in the high jump.
Freshman Brennan Heavilin qualified for the state meet in three events: the shot put, the 102-meter wheelchair and the 402 wheelchair. He advanced after hitting qualifying standard times throughout the season. He was seeded fourth in the shot put, 10th in the 402 and 11th in the 102.
"My mindset at the start of the season was just to try my best," he said.
Heavilin was scheduled to compete in the shot put June 2 and the 102 and 402 June 3.