Game of Throws

Haddonfield's Katie Johnston will compete in javelin and discus at the Meet of Champions.
Haddonfield's Katie Johnston will compete in javelin and discus at the Meet of Champions. (ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 07, 2012

Katie Johnston said she always has been good at throwing things.

That's why she played baseball instead of softball as a youngster.

"I threw too hard for the girls," Johnston said.

Johnston still was on the diamond in the spring of her freshman year at Haddonfield, playing softball. She almost played softball as a sophomore, too.

"I was really on the fence about it," Johnston said. "I had run winter track and liked it, and my track friends were telling me, 'Do spring track. It's even more fun than winter track.' I went right up to the last day, and then I decided to sign up for track.

"It's the best decision I ever made in my life."

Johnston has nothing against softball, but says track has "changed the direction" of her life. She is set to finish one of the most remarkable careers in recent South Jersey track history at the Meet of Champions on Thursday at Carl Sandburg Middle School in Old Bridge.

"What she's done is just amazing," Haddonfield coach Jason Russo said.

Johnston last weekend became just the third girl in New Jersey history to win all three throwing events at a state championship meet. In leading Haddonfield to the Group 2 team title, Johnston won the javelin (152 feet, 9 inches), shot put (40-5), and discus (131-8).

She set personal bests in all three events and set school records in all three events, too.

"The whole week I was thinking, 'Triple Crown,' and I was so excited to be able to do it," Johnston said. "The best thing for me was to help the team win the state championship. That was our goal at the beginning of the season."

Russo said Johnston picked the perfect time to unfurl the best performances of her career.

"It all came together for her just in time for the state championships," Russo said. "She has been making so much progress, and it all happened for her at the best time of the season."

Johnston plans to compete in the javelin and discus at the Meet of Champions. She's the top seed in the javelin. She's the No. 3 seed in the discus.

Johnston said Thursday will be "bittersweet" because it will be her last event for Haddonfield.

"I'll be all business until my events are over, and then I'll be very sad," Johnston said. "These girls, they are like my family. But I know I have to move on."

A standout soccer player, Johnston plans to compete in both sports at the College of William and Mary. She's also a talented sprinter and hurdler - and a former indoor sectional champion in the pole vault - so she could develop into a heptathlete in college.

Because she has competed in track for just three years, Johnston knows she has just begun to tap into her potential in the sport.

"I have so much to learn," Johnston said. "I played sports all my life, but this is different for me. When you are new to something, it's more exciting. I feel like every day I learn something new."


Contact Phil Anastasia

at 856-779-3223 or panastasia@phillynews.com,

or follow on Twitter @PhilAnastasia. Read his blog, "Jersey Side Sports," at www.philly.com/jerseysidesports

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