State Class AA girls' track and field (w/video): Johnson edged in photo finish
It wasn't the result that Alexandria's Wensia Johnson wanted, but fans got the close finish they expected in the final individual race between two of the top high school sprinters that Minnesota has ever seen.
Johnson and senior Taylor Anderson of Hopkins were the clear favorites heading into the 100-meter dash finals on Saturday. These two split the 100 and 200 meter titles last year with Anderson taking the 100 before Johnson stole the 200 from her. That set the stage for another impressive finish as Anderson beat out Johnson's time of 11.98 by the slimmest of margins, winning in 11.97 on Saturday.
"It's disappointing, of course," Johnson said. "But it's better than third or fourth."
Johnson came into the state meet with the fastest seed time in the 100 (12.03) and the longest mark in the long jump at 18-08. She wasn't happy with how that ended on Friday, either, as Johnson took second with a leap of 17-11.25.
"That was terrible," she said with a smile. "But you do what you do, and I got next year again to prove that I can do better. I was a little rattled."
Johnson came into the meet knowing she had her work cut out for her in trying to take down an experienced athlete like Anderson in the 100. The Hopkins senior set the Minnesota all-time record in winning last year's state title with a time of 11.71. Johnson then eclipsed that at the Central Lakes Conference championships this spring when she ran the 100 in 11.69 seconds.
"I have to challenge myself every time to keep closer and closer," Johnson said of facing Anderson. "I have lots of respect for her because I'm on her summer track team, so she teaches me a lot. She encourages me."
Anderson came into state with a seed time of 12.28, but Johnson knew that number didn't mean much.
"Her time on paper is deceiving," she said. "That's not what she runs. We all know that. I kept a mindset to just push myself because my time was faster than hers on paper, just trying to prove that I actually can do it."
She almost did. Johnson had a strong start and led for much of the way before Anderson lunged across the finish line .01 seconds ahead of her. It wasn't the outcome that Johnson wanted, but it was the kind of finish that one might expect from the top two sprinters in the state.