GARY | Even though he's just a freshman, West Side's Lonnie Johnson believes he can compete with the most elite group of long jumpers in northwest Indiana.
It's almost scary to think he still has three full years to improve after jumping 21-feet, 2-inches at the field events portion of Monday's Northwestern Conference meet at Lew Wallace.
"It feels great, but I can do a little better," Johnson said. "I've just got to keep doing it. I'm just a freshman, so I got a lot more (time)."
Johnson's jump was an inch farther than Lew Wallace's Deon Weathersby, who took second place with a leap of 21-1.
"My goal is to go to state and get a medal as a freshman," said Johnson, who said he has a personal best of 23-feet.
West Side coach Gene Johnson believes his freshman has what it takes, as long as he can continue maturing as an athlete.
"He's just beginning to understand his potential," Gene Johnson said. "That's the most exciting part. He started this off as just something fun to do. Today should give him a little encouragement and hopefully, the kind of attitude of being a state qualifying competitor."
West Side also received a win from Khalil Upshaw in the high jump (5-8). Lew Wallace's Montell Davis won the shot put (43-5) while Gary 21st Century's Donald Martin took the discus (106-4).
On the girls side, the Cougars' Nakia Rogers won the high jump with a leap of 4-4 in her first season participating in the event. Rogers also took second in the long jump (13-10) to Lew Wallace's Denisha Golston (13-10), who won the event based on her second-best distance. Rogers has a personal best of 15-feet in the long jump, but the high winds during the meet seemed to negatively affect many of the athletes.
"I think the wind kind of intimidated me a little bit, but other than that, I tried," she said. "I want to make it out of sectionals (in the long jump). I need to put in more work in practice."
Other winners were West Side's Alanna Herron in the shot put (29-7 3/4) and 21st Century's Domonique Wilder in the discus (72-3).