Panther Creek Propelled by 30 Points from J Johnson to win a NCHSAA 4A State Championship



Panther Creek came into the weekend as the underdogs to Green Hope who were the favorites according to our virtual meet with 56 points to Panther Creeks 39.  The Catamounts proved that the rankings mean nothing and certainly came ready to go on Saturday morning.  Panther Creek went on to score 40 points to West Forsyth's 31.  The Titans edged 4 teams, Green Hope, Garner, Parkland and Mallard Creek who all were within three points of West Forsyth.  Below marks the scoring of all the Panther Creek athletes who competed at the NCHSAA 4A State Championships.

BOYSATHLETEPLACESECTIONRESULTS
55 METER DASH
6.31SBJ Johnson1stPrelims H1Boys 55m Dash Prelims
6.33J Johnson1stFinals H1Boys 55 Dash Finals
300 METER DASH
34.39SBJ Johnson1stFinals H3Boys 300
1,000 METER RUN
2:37.22Kyle Fawzi10thFinals H3Boys 1000
55 METER HURDLES
8.12SBQuintavious Workman10thPrelims H3Boys 55m Hurdle Prelims
4X200 METER RELAY
1:33.46Relay Team7thFinals H5Boys 4x200
4X400 METER RELAY
3:32.70SBRelay Team10thFinals H2Boys 4x400
4X800 METER RELAY
8:25.37Relay Team8thFinals H2Boys 4x800
HIGH JUMP
6-4SBJustin Smalls3rdFinals H1Boys High Jump
LONG JUMP
22-8.5SBJ Johnson1stFinals H1Boys Long Jump
19-11Ben Laspaluto13thFinals H1Boys Long Jump
19-10Justin Smalls16thFinals H1Boys Long Jump
TRIPLE JUMP
43-3SBBen Laspaluto8thFinals H1Boys Triple Jump
42-5.5Justin Smalls12thFinals H1Boys Triple Jump


Coming into the meet one thing was for certain, and it's that J Johnson had to have a flawless day if they were to be in team title contention, and he did just that.  In the prelims Johnson equaled William Henderson's (Baltimore Poly, Maryland) US#1 mark of 6.31.  Johnson got out hard, in one of the best starts I've ever seen, and eased up the last few meters as he easily had gotten the win in his prelim heat and was conserving energy for later in the day.  Johnson went on to run 6.33 in the finals to beat out Brandon Ray (Athens Drive) by .05 seconds.

Johnson knew the Long Jump and 300 weren't going to be a cake walk as he didn't enter as the top seed.  Johnson's 22-8.5, a new indoor PR, on his third attempt left him as the top seed going into the finals.  Since he was the top seed he got to jump last in the finals and was able to pass his final attempt and converse energy for the 300.

Finals                                                                           
  1   130 J Johnson           12 Panther Creek         22-08.50      6.92m  10   
      22-00  FOUL  22-08.50  17-10  21-09.75  PASS     

Johnson entered the 300 as the #4 overall seed with a season's best mark of 35.30.  But he rose to the occasion and took the win narrowly over Parkland's Trequan Barnes.  Johnson clocked a US#13 34.39 with Barnes in at US#14 34.49.  Both boys also cracked North Carolina's Indoor All-Time Top 25 lists with Johnson at NC#6 All-Time and Barnes NC#8 All-Time.

Boys 300m NC Indoor All-Time List

Rank

Name

School

Time

Year

1

Fuquwan Green

New Bern

33.84

2010

2

J-Mee Samuels

Mount Tabor

33.87

2005

3

Trenton Guy Jr.

West Charlotte

34.17

2007

4

Darren Tuitt

East Mecklenburg

34.20

1998

5

Mike Loyd

Mount Tabor

34.26

2002

6

J Johnson

Panther Creek

34.39

2017

7

T.J. Graham

Wakefield

34.43

2008

8

Trequan Barnes

Parkland

34.49

2017

9

Jamaree Murray

Southeast Raleigh

34.50

2014

10

Dylan Peebles

Wakefield

34.53

2015

11

Shane Bechtold

Forsyth County Day

34.56

2000

12

Ky-Mani Dula

Southern Alamance

34.65

2015

13

Quashawn Cunningham

Mallard Creek

34.66

2014

14

Chris Martin

East Mecklenburg

34.67

1999

15

Jarrett Samuels

Vance

34.73

2010



As a triple winner Johnson easily walked away with the title of NCHSAA 4A MVP.  And for everyone who questions whether his first name is actually "J" he gives some background on how his name runs in the family. 


A huge addition to Panther Creeks track team is baseball player Ben Laspaluto who qualified in the Long Jump and Triple Jump and also ran a leg on the 4x200 that placed 7th.  Coach Paul Scruggs told me earlier in the season that Laspaluto's friend and teammate Kyle Fawzi convinced him to give track a try and it's worked out fantastically for Panther Creek.  Laspaluto qualified for states in his first meet competing in the triple jump with a mark of 42-10 at the Eastern High School Challenge.  In his second ever Triple Jump competition he placed 8th in 4A out of 33 athletes, a very impressive feat.  Laspaluto was awarded as one of two athletes to receive the NCHSAA sportsmanship award from the meet.

In 2014 Panther Creek did not send one boys to the NCHSAA Indoor State Championships.   In 2015 they just sent a 4x800 that placed 9th overall and score no points in the team competition.  In 2016 Panther Creek scored 19 points to finish 9th.  The distance side has also gotten much stronger as they finished 6th in the All-Class Team Rankings this fall.  Talk about a meteoric rise of a program.

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