“If you feel fast, you’re going to be fast.”
That’s the mantra Rejoice Christian track coach Brandon Johnson likes to go by.
His Eagle squad must have felt mighty fast last week because they destroyed school and meet records en route to winning the Oklahoma boy’s 2A state track meet.
“We knew it was going to be a points battle,” claimed Johnson, whose team amassed 119 points, 16 more than second place Hooker. ‘They took care of business. We had some guys have some over-the-top performances.”
One of those guys was junior Chance Wilson, who won four gold medals to pace the Eagles to their second straight state title. Wilson finished first in the 200 and 400 meters and ran the anchor leg on the 4×200 and 4×400 relays.
“He’s one of those special athletes,” stated Johnson on Wilson, who’s also one of the state’s top quarterbacks. “He came in a little bit late from basketball and wasn’t quite in track shape. His first meet of the year wasn’t great, but he followed the program. The next week he was faster and the week after that he was faster, and his times kept coming down to where we knew he could be. He peaked at the right time.”
Wilson’s performance included personal bests and school records in all four of his events. He recorded blistering times in the 200 (21.79) and the 400 (48.68). The winning time of 1:27.03 in the 4×200 relay set a 2A state meet record and is the third-fastest time in all classes in Oklahoma state meet history.
“The last two weeks, they kept wanting to set that record and I kept telling them just be patient with it,” said Johnson. “At regionals, they wanted to break the record and I told them we don’t need to because we’re quite a bit faster than the second-place team. Just qualify and at state we’ll go for the record. I thought they could go 1:29, but to go 1:27.03 is incredible for a small school.”
Another top performer for the Eagles was Josh Hendrix. The sophomore was a member of three gold medal-winning relay teams (4×100, 4×200, 4×400) and finished second in the open 400.
One possible reason for Rejoice’s great team performance and excellent individual times was the fact the 2A state meet was held at nearby Catoosa High School.
“They didn’t have to stay in a hotel room,” said Johnson. “They got to sleep in their own beds. They got to eat right the night before. They got to sleep in a little bit on Saturday. When we got there, they were ready to go.”
Despite winning state last year, Johnson believes his previous team peaked a week before the state meet. This year, the Eagles were obviously primed for peak performance at the final meet of the season.
“We pushed training all the way through regionals,” recalled Johnson. “We had two really hard days of practice the week of state, then told them to go in confident, and they did.”
The Eagles could have coasted in the final race and still won the title, but the 4×400 relay team was adamant about going out on top.
“We could have finished fifth and still won, but I told them to go out and win it and then the points won’t matter,” said Johnson. “Chance said, ‘I want four golds.’ They ran a 3:26 and beat our school record by five seconds. They just blew away the competition. They wanted to close it out.”
All the state placers for the Eagles are underclassmen, so the opportunity to win a third straight team title next year is a very realistic goal.
“I’m already looking forward to next year,” admitted Johnson. “They’re probably going to bump us up to 3A because of the private school rule. Our times look pretty good (compared to 3A), especially in the sprints. Distance races will be a lot more difficult.”
“Chance, there’s a good chance he’s going to graduate early to play college football,” added Johnson. “If he does come back next year, he’ll make a run at some state record times, for sure.”