MOUNT GILEAD — After being recognized as the best in the state in Division III last month, a pair of Mount Gilead High School track and field champions were honored by their hometown.
Bradley Landon and Allison Johnson were recognized for their stellar spring campaigns prior to village council’s July 15 meeting. Mayor Michael Porter read proclamations for each.
Competing in the seated shot put, Landon took first place out of nine competitors with a state meet record throw of 25’3” to win by over 2 feet over the second-place finisher. Seated events were added to the state meet in 2013.
In the girls’ meet, Johnson took first place in the 800 by over two seconds, finishing in 2:10.53.
“I love to run. I started getting really serious about it in the seventh grade after I stopped gymnastics. But my freshman year it kind of took off,” she said.
“It’s honestly been a lot of fun to experience competing at that level.”
Johnson, who will be a junior, had qualified for the state meet in four events, but elected not to compete in the 400 or the pole vault in order to focus on the 800 and 100-meter hurdles. She ran 14.77 in hurdles to place second in that event.
With two years left in her career, Johnson isn’t ready to take it easy.
Being a state champion “is a form of motivation to see if I can continue to be at that level.”
Her individual goal setting varies.
“It kind of depends on the race. I like to judge how I do based off myself, not just my personal best or fastest times.”
Johnson will soon begin preparing for cross country this fall.
“That’s what I’m training for right now. Cross country, then indoor track, then outdoor track,” she said.
“Some people have a hobby like watching TV. I like track. It’s one of my hobbies.”
Landon has overcome challenges his entire life, so winning the title in record breaking fashion shouldn’t come as a surprise.
He was born with amniotic band syndrome, with his right foot smaller than his left. He had his foot amputated at age six and wears a knee-down prosthetic on his right leg.
“I was never treated differently. I’ve just always competed against other people my age,” he said.
“They may have had a better hand dealt to them. But you go in with the mindset to do your best.”
Remarkably, the graduating senior also played football, basketball and golf for the Indians.
“If they needed me to play quarterback I’d play there. If they needed me to play defensive lineman. Whatever I had to do for the team I’d do and I enjoyed doing it,” he said.
His attitude was to try anything — and it paid off.
“I never did track before so I didn’t know what I would be,” he said. But prompting by his coach got him onto the oval and to the top of the podium.
Landon is studying cyber security at The Ohio State University-Marion and plans to eventually go to the main campus.
His days of competing may not be over however.
“We’re also looking into some Paralympics things too,” he said.