Athlete of the Year: Runner - Johnny Lancaster

DREW NASH • TIMES-NEWS Wendell's Johnny Lancaster is the 2014 Times-News track and field male runner of the year. Photo taken Thursday, June 5, 2014, at Filer High School.

WENDELL — As a freshman, Wendell’s Johnny Lancaster was one of the best jumpers in 2A, primed to take home first place trophies as a sophomore.

But jumping Johnny had knee soreness.

“I didn’t jump,” Lancaster said. “I decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of taking me out of running. It was just getting worse. I always thought I’d be a jumper, but it hurt all year.”

So Lancaster shifted his attention midseason entirely to sprinting, winning state titles in the 100-meter (11.33) and 200-meter (22.59) dashes.

How adaptive an athlete is Lancaster?

Not only did he win first in events he was much less experienced in than the other competitors, he did it while battling a strained groin.

“I didn’t have the explosion out of the blocks I wanted and I knew the starts wouldn’t be that great,” Lancaster said. “I knew they’d be come-from-behind races, which they both were. It hurt coming out of blocks, but striding out was fine.”

Lancaster won both his sprints by a hair, edging out runners in the final paces.

“Coach Jon Helmandollar has taught me to overcome adversity, that is what sports and life are all about,” Lancaster said. “It was a big mental block going into the second day and I had to go in thinking whatever result I’d get, I’d be okay with.”

But those first place trophies won’t be what Lancaster remembers, or even his most impressive feat on the season.

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That would be helping a group seniors (Alex Swainston, Jordan Lopez, Chaz Nebeker) get over the top with a first place trophy and a school record in the 4x200 meters (1:31.35).

“It meant a ton to all of them,” Lancaster said. “It was one of the coolest things to be a part of. It meant so much to then and me to be a part of it.”

The quick learning Lancaster joined the relay team just two weeks before districts.

“I had never done a relay in my life before that.”

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