Photo by Jeff Yoder
Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – Through the first three years of his prep career there was always something holding Seb Johanson back.
Often it was injuries, specifically shin splints that kept Johanson from breaking through.
Other times it was excuses that kept Johanson from reaching his full potential.
The shin splints that nagged Johanson throughout his career remain but the excuses that came with them are a thing of the past.
“I’ve always battled shin splints and year’s prior I used that as an excuse not to do all the work,” Johanson said. “This year they certainly haven’t been better but I think I’ve really stepped up and figured out how to say ‘I hurt but I’m going to go 100 percent’.”
With that change in attitude has come a breakthrough for Johanson that has been four years in the making.
After running on a single relay team at the state meet each of the past two seasons Johanson qualified for the Class 3A state track meet in four events this season for the first time in his career.
The senior enters with a top-10 qualifying time in the 110 hurdles and is a member of the Clippers’ sixth-seeded shuttle hurdle relay team.
“This year I’ve had to step up as a leader, I’ve got guys looking up to me, four years ago I was looking up to guys when I was coming into the program and now I’m that guy that people look up to and that’s really cool,” Johanson said. “It’s about putting in the work and having the right attitude and I’ve gone from a one-event qualifier to a four-event qualifier and that’s amazing.”
The breakthrough season from Johanson has helped spur a resurgence at Clear Creek Amana.
Led by its four-event qualifying senior the Clippers are taking a record number of participants to the Class 3A state track and field meet that opens Thursday afternoon at Drake Stadium in Des Moines.
Under third-year coach Ben Robison the Clippers qualified nine events for state and have double entries in a pair of individual events.
That 11 total event qualifiers matches the 2009 team for the most in program history.
“It’s huge for the program, it’s very indicative of where we are and I’d say that these kids are very locked in to what we are doing,” Robison said. “I think that it's clicking that we are good and we’ve got some athletes and we can start competing. They want it and they go out and do it.”
Johanson has been among the Clippers with that go-get it attitude that is turning the tides at CCA.
His change in attitude has been contagious on a Clear Creek Amana team that has enjoyed historic success this season.
“The attitude is different this season and I think that’s been a big part of it,” Clear Creek Amana senior Matt Brimeyer said. “We were doing a lot more stuff in the offseason, guys are working harder in the weight room and in practice. There is that expectation now of working hard.”
Johanson was one of the first to jump on board.
Despite the persistent pain from shin splits that forces him into regular 20-minute ice baths after workouts he worked harder than ever during the offseason.
Johanson hit the weight room harder and spent more time on small details like form and technique.
The work paid off, quickly.
His top 110 hurdle time of 15.04 ranks third all-time at CCA and is the seventh fastest in Class 3A this season.
“The last couple of years I have been trying but this year I’ve had a bit of breakthrough,” Johanson said. “Things started clicking for me.”
Johanson also qualified for state in the long jump and is a member of the Clippers 4x100 and shuttle hurdle relay teams.
After back-to-back seasons of reaching state in just the shuttle hurdle relay, Johanson will compete in the maximum four events this weekend at Drake Stadium.
“I think he realized it’s his final year and he doesn’t get another go around and he doesn’t want to leave anything out there for regrets,” Clear Creek Amana coach Ben Robison said of Johanson. “I’m just thrilled for him. He’s killing it, he’s just killing it.”
Johanson has been a piece of the puzzle for what has been a tremendous season of growth for CCA.
The Clippers haven’t had a state medal since 2016 but Johanson is among three Clippers that enter with top-eight performances in 3A this season.
Sophomore Nick Gerard has the third best long jump mark in 3A at 22-4 ½ and fellow sophomore Jack Sexton has the eighth fastest 1,600 time this spring.
“There is a winning culture here and that has been important,” Sexton said. “From cross country after getting top 10 at state for the first time I think the momentum carried over.”
The Clippers will try to carry that momentum three more days.
Following a season full of strong performances Clear Creek Amana will try to save its best for last.
“This is absolutely what I’ve been waiting for and what the kids have been waiting for,” Robison said. “I was hopeful to get 10 plus events to the state championships and I can’t ask for anything more than what we’ve gotten that’s for sure.”