Prep Boys Track

Ring of fire: Johnson's final throw clears 200 feet, wins another state title

Quincy High School senior Jordan Johnson launches the discus during Saturday’s finals at the Class 3A state track and field championships in Charleston, Ill. Johnson’s throw of 205 feet, 8 inches won the state title. | Photo for the H-W/Douglas Cottle, PhotoNews Media
By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 26, 2019 12:01 am

CHARLESTON, Ill. -- Jordan Johnson swiped one of AJ Epenesa's meet records earlier this spring.

He nearly eclipsed another Saturday on the state's biggest stage.

On the final throw of his prep career, the Quincy High School senior unleashed a mammoth toss in the discus, hitting 205 feet, 8 inches to successfully defend his title in the Class 3A boys track and field state championships at O'Brien Stadium on the Eastern Illinois University campus.

"It feels fantastic," said Johnson, who won the state title in the discus last season with a throw of 196-9. "I don't really know how to put it into words to be honest. I'm thinking back to when I just started getting into track and being in awe of anyone who won one state championship. The fact that I got to win two is pretty awesome."

His winning mark is the second longest discus throw in state championships history, falling 3 inches short of the mark Edwardsville's Epenesa hit during the preliminary round in 2016. They are the only throwers to ever eclipse 200 feet at the state meet.

The two will be on the same campus next fall as Johnson has signed to throw for the University of Iowa and Epenesa is a standout defensive end for the Iowa football team and considered a future NFL prospect.

So the possibility exists Epenesa could good-?naturedly jab Johnson for falling inches short.

"We'll see about that," Johnson said with a?chuckle. "I did take one of his records this year."

That was at the Collinsville Invitational where Johnson threw 206-1.

That raised the hope and the expectation he could clear 200 feet again.

After finishing sixth in the shot put with a toss of 57-10.75, Johnson felt he needed to redeem himself.

"I told myself I had to make it up in the discus and go out big," Johnson said.

He knew he had as he stood there watching his final throw fly.

"I was throwing some pretty big ones in warm-ups and that one felt pretty similar," Johnson said. "So I knew pretty much out of my hand it was going to be a good throw."

Everyone knew it.

"You could tell by the flight of the disc that it was going," QHS coach Matt McClelland said. "It was going over 200. You could just tell. Other guys were popping good throws in the finals. So I was like, ‘Wow, if these guys are really starting to unleash, what's he going to do?' You could tell when it left his hand it was a good one."

It was nearly the perfect one to say goodbye with.

"Everybody was sitting on the edge of their seats knowing he'd done it earlier in the year and wanted to see him do it," McClelland said. "And he did. He dropped that on them right before he walked out of the ring."

Producing the biggest throw in a clutch moment makes it all the more memorable.

So does going back-to-back. Johnson is just the second QHS athlete to successfully defend an individual state championship, joining Luke Guthrie, who won back-to-back golf championships in 2005 and '06.

They are the only athletes in school history with multiple individual state championships.

"You've got a bull's-eye on your back all year long after you win it as a junior," McClelland said. "He's done everything he possibly could to handle that and he's done it right."

That made standing atop the podium extra special.

"It's amazing," Johnson said.