YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – He had expected to post meet record times in the finals, not the preliminaries.
Yet Jabari Johnson on Monday made his Far East High School Track and Field Meet debut in style. The Nile C. Kinnick sophomore broke the meet’s 100- , 200- and 400-meter dash records and qualified for Tuesday’s finals, where his coach says he might even run faster.
“He’s obviously very talented,” Red Devils coach Luke Voth said. “He’s built what he’s got. He works hard and takes it very seriously.”
Johnson posted a time of 10.92 seconds in the 100, .09 ahead of pre-meet favorite Rahman Farnell of Kubasaki. In the 200, Johnson was timed in 22.03 and he became just the fourth northwest Pacific runner to crack 50 seconds in the 400, clocking a 49.75. All came in preliminary rounds.
“I’ll get him,” Farnell said after the 100.
Just how fast Johnson can actually go, Voth says will be answered over time. “He’s 16. He’s only a sophomore. He’s very competitive. If we get good weather like this tomorrow, I think he’ll (go) faster,” Voth said.
Johnson’s record hat trick was one of 10 meet records to tumble, including Yokota sophomore Daniel Galvin running 1 minute, 55.54 seconds to shatter the 800 record of 1:59.12 set last year. And Galvin, who broke his own Pacific record of 1:56.89 set April 26 at Edgren, said he ran “a really bad race.”
“I thought someone was going to catch me,” he said of a stretch run that was “such a struggle to push it in. I wanted to get a 1:54. I think I can get it down there. But this is the last meet of the year. A 1:55, I’ll be satisfied with that.”
Farnell was part of a Kubasaki boys 400-meter relay team that clocked 43.66 seconds in qualifying to beat the meet record by .13. He said the best may be yet to come, including breaking their own Pacific record 42.9 set in March. “I want to do that. We’ll see tomorrow,” he said.
Another athlete who felt he could do better was Seoul American’s David Davison, who tossed the shot 13.59 meters to better the old mark of 13.11. “I was hoping to hit 14; I messed up in the circle,” Davison said. “A 13.59 will have to do.”
Sophomore Tatiana Riordan helped American School In Japan set two records in the girls 3,200 and 3,200 relay.
“Tiring but good,” Riordan said she felt after clocking 11:50.49 to beat the old 3,200 record by 3½ seconds. She credited teammate Lisa Watanuki and Seisen International’s Lisa Kwak and Maku Itakura for pacing her.
"Without them, I don’t win,” Riordan said.
She ran on the 3,200 relay team that was timed in 10:02.21, besting the old mark by more than seven seconds.
Mustangs’ teammate Liz Thornton has struggled with ankle and leg injuries most of the season, coming into Far East nursing a sore right hamstring. Yet she leaped 4.95 meters in the long jump, breaking her two-year-old record by .03 meters.
“It’s how much you want it and how much you work for it,” said Thornton, a senior. “Injuries are part of sport. If you want to do it, you find a way.”
Finally, there was diminutive Amora Wood, a rising hurdles star out of Zion Christian Academy International, who was timed in the 100 hurdles in 16.78 seconds, breaking the old mark of 16.98.
2013 finals rematches yield mixed results
Rematches of 2013 championship games and matches could be found in three other tournaments as play in Far East spring sports week began in earnest with four soccer tournaments and two softball tournaments.
Bobbi Hill scored twice, giving her 21 goals for the season, and Matthew C. Perry’s girls soccer team blanked Osan 5-0 in a rematch of the 2013 Division II final, won by the Cougars 4-0.
Daegu’s and Kinnick’s softball teams turned their rematches with 2013 champions into instant replays of those finals.
The Warriors broke open a tight game with a big sixth inning and downed E.J. King 12-7; Daegu had won the 2013 D-II title game 15-10. Red Devils pitching silenced Kadena’s hot bats in a 3-1 victory; Kinnick had rallied to edge the Panthers 2-1 in last year’s Division I final.
Stripes staffer James Kimber contributed to this report.