Trixie Johnson didn’t appear to be in an enviable position during Friday’s 800-meter run at the IHSA Class 2A girls’ meet.
The Paxton-Buckley-Loda sophomore crossed the finish line of O’Brien Stadium’s bright blue track ranking 11th of 12 athletes in the event’s second and fastest heat. Panthers fans were in for a surprise when Johnson came barreling down the home straightaway for the race’s second and final time.
“Usually the last stretch isn’t my forte, but I knew that other girls went out too fast. So I had to use that against them,” Johnson said. “I didn’t expect to be second to last, but it worked out.”
Johnson jumped all the way to sixth place before she again crossed the line, clocking 2 minutes, 21.83 seconds and handing PBL only its third-ever girls’ track and field state medal.
The others were earned by Aleeka Gentzler in the 2015 Class 1A high jump (ninth place) and a 1991 800 relay unit (sixth place in Class A).
“I knew (my opponents) were going to either be super conservative and catch me or they were going to go out too fast and I was going to catch them,” Johnson said. “I made sure I stuck to my race plan that Coach (Dustin) Franckey gave me.”
Johnson arrived at the facility around 10:30 a.m., roughly five hours before her race actually began. That’s the cost of being a good teammate, as Johnson wanted to see Panthers junior Lillie Frichtl compete in long jump (18th place).
“I had been nervous all day,” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘This isn’t real. I can’t believe I’m here.’ But it did go by so fast.”
PBL’s also qualified for state in the long jump.
Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley’s Natalie DeSchepper qualified for the Class 1A
competition in the 400 meter run, while Cecilia Goodin qualified in the 800 meters and the team of Abigail Sizemore (Sr.), Rylie Huls (Fr.), Ava Kurtenbach (Jr.), Natalie DeSchepper (Fr.) qualified in the 800 relay.