Leverenz on 800 title: 'Awesome'
CHARLESTON — Danville’s Johnny Leverenz was announced as the Class 3A state champion 800-meter runner.
There’s no need to specify a class. The junior ran the fastest 800 time of runners in any of the three divisions during Saturday’s 119th boys’ track and field state meet at Eastern Illinois.
He lowered the school record he set less than 24 hours earlier to 1 minute, 53.28 seconds. Leverenz had posted the best qualifying time on Friday.
“There was a lot of pressure and I got really nervous,” he said. “When I stepped to the (starting) line, the nerves went away and I let my body take over.”
Leverenz — who ran the fourth fastest time on The News-Gazette all-time area honor roll — didn’t let the steady rain affect his performance.
“I don’t mind rain as much as most people,” he said.
Danville coach Steve Luke expected Leverenz to ignore the conditions.
“He prepared well and is such a competitive kid, I had confidence he’d perform well,” Luke said. “He has shown he can do about anything we put him in. Right now, he looks pretty good in the 800.”
A relative newcomer to the event, Leverenz placed fourth in the 800 at the indoor state meet.
“He has only run about 11 or 12 open 800s,” Luke said. “Todd (Orvis, Danville distance coach) has done an excellent job getting him prepared to compete at this level.”
Leverenz took the lead during the opening 200 meters and never relinquished it.
“I love crossing the finish line ahead of everyone else,” Leverenz said. “It’s awesome. I wanted to take the lead early and hold them off, but the last 100 was tough.”
Runner-up Bryce Richards, from Mundelein, was timed in 1:53.69.
The 10 points that Leverenz scored for his win enabled the Vikings to finish in a tie for 27th in the team standings.