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Erie-Prophetstown finishes in third place in 1A

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(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Erie-Prophetstown's Devin Johnson competes in the long jump during Saturday's Class 1A finals. Johnson placed second in the event, and the Panthers finished third as a team.

CHARLESTON – Erie-Prophetstown didn't possess Newman's blazing team speed or the individual brilliance of Monmouth-Roseville's Martel Hunter.

The Panthers did have enough, however, to accumulate 26 points and finish third in the 1A boys state track & field meet that concluded Saturday at O'Brien Stadium.

Newman (41) and Monmouth-Roseville (31, with 28 of those coming from Hunter) took the top two team spots, while E-P bested Oregon by 2.5 points for the third, and final, team trophy.

"I think it was very good for us," senior Darius Owens said. "We came here ranked low in some things and we were high in other things. Today, we did decent. We did what we could do, and we're good with that. It's good for us to go out with a big bang like this."

Leading the way for the Panthers was senior Devin Johnson, who competed in four events. His individual highlight was in the long jump, in which he finished second with a leap of 22-0. 

It came on the third of three attempts in the finals, and was 1 inch farther than he posted in Thursday's preliminary round. Still, it wasn't enough to catch Chester's Kyle Landon, who had gone 22-1 3/4 in the prelims. Landon passed on his attempt when nobody was able to catch him.

After Johnson's third attempt, it appeared he might just do that. He waited eagerly near the pit while his jump was being measured, then walked away slowly when he got the news.

"I thought it was going to be a little bit farther than the guy in first," Johnson said. "but it wasn't. I probably wasn't on the board, and if I would have been on the board, I would have been farther."

Johnson freely admitted his goal was to earn first place in the long jump, especially after posting a leap of 22-11 3/4 as a junior while in a head-to-head duel against former Kewanee standout Dontae Prior.

"It's definitely cool," Johnson said of taking second, "but the entire year I've been saying to myself that I was going to win long jump. I always said if you're the best jumper in the state in your division, then jump like it. It's cool, of course, to get second, but it wasn't what I came to do. I came to win, and I didn't."

Johnson also finished eighth in the 400 with a time of 54.49. It was shortly after the 800 relay final, and Johnson faded badly at the end of the 400.

The relays were the other strengths for the Panthers. The 800 team of Owens, Nate Andreas, Chris Bauer and Johnson took third in 1:30.77, while the same four runners placed fourth in the 400 relay in 43.21 seconds.

"In the 4-by-1, we were hoping to get a higher place," Bauer said. "We felt like we didn't run good today, but we still got a medal, and that's what we wanted to do. The 4-by-2, we felt like we had a good race, too. We're just glad to be up there toward the top."

Both of those races were won by Three Rivers brethren Newman, which was OK by Bauer.

"We always talk to the Newman guys – we're friends with them," Bauer said. "We know each other real well. If there's anybody we're going to get beat by, we want to get beat by Newman."

Owens also competed in the 200 and placed seventh with a time of 23.05.

Erie-Prophetstown also had a pair of throwers in the finals, but was unable to pick up any additional points.

Ethan Oleson entered the shot put finals in ninth place with a preliminary-round throw of 47-9. He failed to improve on that distance in a rain-soaked finals, and was passed by Leo's Terron Bell, who uncorked a 48-10 1/2 heave after managing just 47-7 in the prelims.

Jon Butts remained in 11th place in the discus with a throw of 140-6 achieved in the preliminary round. Again, wet conditions in the throwing rings made improving on any throws in the finals a long shot.

Still, the Panthers were able to hold off Oregon for third place

"It's a great surprise for us," E-P coach Jason Snyder said. "We knew we were going to do well down here, but we didn't think we were going to sneak out of here with a third. Without Ethan coming through for us in the shot, we thought we were kind of out of the picture there.

"The boys worked awfully hard this season, and this is a good way for them to finish."

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