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Boys track & field: Spotlight on Dixon's John Worley

Worley seeking to recapture winning form

Dixon senior John Worley had his football season erased by a broken leg. So far this spring, he's been grounded by inclement weather. Now, he's 3 weeks away from sectionals and looking to lift off in the long jump.
Dixon senior John Worley had his football season erased by a broken leg. So far this spring, he's been grounded by inclement weather. Now, he's 3 weeks away from sectionals and looking to lift off in the long jump.

It's not a giant leap to say John Worley was going to be one of the area's top track and field athletes this season.

The problem for the Dixon High School senior is he's still looking for that giant leap.

Worley had a personal-best distance of 22 feet in the long jump as a junior, one of the best in the area. He also has sprinter's speed packed onto his powerful 5-foot-7, 145-pound frame, and that was going to allow him to excel on the football field as well.

He's barely got to display his athletic gifts.

Back on Aug. 24, Worley rushed 13 times for 92 yards, caught eight passes for 44 yards and scored three touchdowns in a 21-20 loss to United Township. The next week, against Rochelle, his season came to an abrupt halt.

On a kickoff return, he was blocking for a teammate when he found himself in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

"The guy that tackled one of my friends with the ball, he slid off of him and slammed on the back of my leg," Worley said. "I knew right away it was pretty bad."

Worley suffered a broken left leg, as well as torn ligaments in his left ankle. He underwent surgery a few weeks after the injury, with a plate and eight screws inserted to keep his leg together. The ligaments were left to heal on their own.

"I was just really frustrated," Worley said. "Sitting was the worst part."

Worley was able to resume light running by the end of December, and he's been gradually rounding into shape ever since. It's been a slow process.

Worley's body is still healing, and his left leg tends to give him some discomfort, especially on cold days. That's been a huge problem, because this spring has been mostly filled with cold, damp days.

"I could go through a track workout really hard," Worley said, "then the next few days, I'd have to take off."

Then there is the lack of quality track time. The Dixon squad has been confined to the not-so-great indoors way too much this spring, and the team's showcase event, the Dixon Invitational, was cancelled this past Saturday as the track was under flood waters from the Rock River.

Worley was to run the 100 and 400 for the first time in Wednesday's meet at Lena-Winslow. He ran one 200, in a pedestrian (for him) 23.6 seconds at Westwood, and his best long jump is 19-4, almost three feet less than a year ago.

"Most of the kids on the track team, I'd be beating them pretty bad," Worley said. "I can't really beat them now. I'm really hard on myself, but I guess I just have to keep pushing through it. I think I'm getting closer to where I was."

Still, there is time to recover. The Northern Illinois Big 12 meet is still more than 2 weeks away, and as an added incentive, Worley and the Dukes will have a home-field advantage. The following week, it's off to the Sterling Sectional, and the week after, the state meet in Charleston.

"State is still the goal," Dixon coach Bruce Luther said. "If he's going to state, he's going to earn it. It would be something else if he did that."

Worley file

High school: Dixon

Class: Senior

FYI: Long jumped 22 feet as a junior. ... Also a top sprinter for the Dukes. ... Suffered broken left leg and torn ankle ligaments in Aug. 31 football game at Rochelle, ending his season.

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