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Junior jumper shines at state meet

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: June 11, 2017 12:00 AM
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Take one glance at Sara Johnson and you might not think she's an explosive athlete who can jump out of a gym.

The Tallmadge junior is just 5 feet, 3 inches tall.

When it comes to Johnson, though, perhaps Lady Blue Devils head track and field coach Mike Srodawa has the best way to explain her performances.

"She has springs," he said.

Those "springs" are the reason why Johnson concluded the 2017 season as one of the best jumpers in the state.

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Johnson capped a stellar junior year with an 11th-place leap of 17 feet, 1.25 inches in the long jump at the Division I state track and field meet. The competition took place June 3 at The Ohio State University's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.

While Johnson hoped to leap a bit further than she did, her first trip to the state meet was a joy of a lifetime.

"It was really fun," Johnson said. "It wasn't one of my best jumps, but it was a good experience."

Johnson had a phenomenal season for Tallmadge.

She was a force throughout the spring in multiple events and she set school records during the Suburban League American Conference meet last month.

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Johnson jumped a school-record 17-10.75 and also had records in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, respectively. She ran a time of 12.66 seconds in the 100 and 25.75 seconds in the 200.

The previous record in the long jump was owned by Amanda Bennett in 2009. Laura Phillips had the record in the 200 during the 1990s. Phillips and Kelly Smith shared the previous record in the 100. Smith also competed for the Lady Blue Devils in the 1990s.

"Sara had a great season," Srodawa said. "To finish 11th in that field is pretty impressive. Her performance at the conference meet was one of the best performances I've ever seen."

What is the secret to Johnson's leaping ability?

"My coach always tells me that I have really good explosion," she said. "That helps a lot in the long jump. Height doesn't really matter."

Johnson, who also played basketball and soccer for Tallmadge, plans to jump on the collegiate level.

Whatever college recruits her will get an athlete who shows no fear under pressure.

"She's not intimidated," Srodawa said. "She's a gamer who thrives on the competition. She definitely has the killer instinct. She does not like to lose."

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