Platte County senior Andrew Johnson set a school record in the 1,600-meter race of the 65th annual Licklider Invitational on Saturday in Jefferson City. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Johnson adds 1,600-meter school record to growing long-distance legacy

Platte County’s trip to Jefferson City includes PRs for senior star, Stevens, Johnson plus another strong showing of depth from relays.

If any semblance of doubt existed, Andrew Johnson confirmed the now obvious status.

Platte County’s senior star wrote another new chapter in the program’s record book during Saturday’s trip to the 65th annual Licklider Invitational at Jefferson City High School. He put the focus of his day on the 1,600-meter race, recorded a victory and posted a school record of 4 minutes, 19.26 seconds in the process, erasing the time Nathan Straubel set in the 2015 Class 4 MSHSAA Track and Field Championships.

Johnson toppled Straubel’s 3,200 mark last spring and recently lowered that number again this season.

In what continues to be a remarkable career, Johnson clearly owns distinction as the best long-distance runner in Platte County’s history. Straubel previously set the standard during a decorated career but has no school records left after seeing his mark of 4:21.55 in the 1,600 bettered by more than 2 full seconds.

Johnson won the race over Sullivan’s Abram Denny by about 11 1/2 seconds on a sunny but breezy day at Jefferson City High School, which also hosts the state meet. Generally known for the longer distance races, Johnson also often contributes to the Pirates’ 4×800 relay. He bypassed that on Saturday to put his focus on the 1,600 and bested his previous fast time of 4:29.78 set last April by more than 10 seconds.

Platte County junior Tanner Jenks kept Platte County in the medals for the 3,200, placing third (10:26.28) after pulling a difficult double. He was sixth in the 1,600 earlier in the day.

In addition to Johnson, Platte County sophomore Braiden Stevens also posted notable career-bests in a pair of individual events. He ran a PR of 11.15 in the 100 preliminaries — the third-fastest qualifying time — and came back to finish fifth in the finals at 11.16. He tied with Clinton’s Cameron Mertz in that race but lost the photo finish.

Stevens, who is a first-year member of the track and field team, also put up a make of 6.39 meters in the long jump but came in seventh, despite improving on his previous long of 6.28 meters.

Platte County freshman Jack Johnson continued to display his potential in both hurdling events. He came in second in the 300 race at 42.42, faster than the career-best he recently set at 42.71. He also placed sixth in the 110 hurdles at 15.71 after qualifying for the finals with a PR of 15.69.

The strength of Platte County’s roster continues to be in depth, as evidenced in another standout showing for the relay teams.

Stevens combined with junior Brayden Eschliman and fellow sophomores Adeboye Akande and Ty Christopher to finish third in the 4×200 relay (1:31.28 — a season-best) and the 4×100 with Stevens, Akande, Christopher and junior Frailyn Lane came in fourth but also lowered this season’s fastest time to 43.57.

Jack Johnson, Eschliman, junior Josh Fraker and senior Connor Currence made up this week’s 4×400, which continues to await the return of sophomore and returning anchor Jackson Goodale. The Pirates were second in 3:26.02 but weren’t far off from the winning mark of Francis Howell (3:24.12).

With Andrew Johnson not in the 4×800, Fraker ran the opening leg of that race for a second straight meet and combined with Currence, senior Kade Meinke and sophomore Blake Herron to post an 8:03.66 — the lowest mark this season with Platte County continuing to rotate runners in the event. That marked the fifth-fastest time in program history according to available records and the best mark since the 2018 season, which included the school record performance in the Class 4 state meet.

With two extra relay events than normal meets, Platte County added a second-place finish in the distance medley and a third-place showing in the 1,600 sprint medley. Andrew Johnson, Currence, Herron and Meinke made up the distance unit, which posted a mark of 10:55.80, while Christopher, Eschliman, Fraker and Meinke were on the 200-200-400-800 team.

Winnetonka Invitational

Platte County took a limited roster to Thursday’s Winnetonka Invitational at North Kansas City District Activities Complex with the travel to Jefferson City pending a few days later. The Pirates finished 11th out of 14 teams.

However, Platte county senior Savion Jones finished third in the 400 (56.48), while juniors Maurice Bass (16.77, 110 hurdles) and Gus Keeton (40.08 meters, discus) added a pair of fifth-place finishes to lead the individual efforts.

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