Wright gives Tigers’ hope in 100 and 200

WELLSVILLE — Wellsville sophomore Justin Wright had a speed bump on his way to the state track meet.

“I had an injury at the county meet and stayed off of it for awhile,” he said.

Wright suffered a groin injury while repeating as the 100-meter champion at the Columbiana County Track and Field Meet on May 1.

“I honestly felt like it could have been a cramp,” he said. “But when I got up the next morning, it was definitely a groin.”

Wright didn’t start running again until two days before the Springfield district meet began on May 16.

“I was pretty worried about the 200 with my stamina,” he said. “I was healing and staying off it.”

He looks like he’s 100 percent now as he raced to district and regional titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes on the way to Division III state berths.

“He seems to be,” Wellsville coach Randy Thrasher said. “No worries at all. He was off those couple of weeks. We put him through some good therapy and some strengthening exercises.”

Wright wanted to run in the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference Meet on May 12, but he had to look at the bigger picture.

“I wanted to run fast, but I had to take it easy,” he said.

“We didn’t think there was any reason why we should chance it,” Thrasher said. “The league championship was important to him. We discussed it and thought it would be best to rest him.”

Nothing Wright is doing has surprised Thrasher.

“I knew he was special when I had him in seventh-grade basketball,” he said. “I knew he was going to be quick. Last year when he ran 11 at the regional tournament, I knew he had capabilities of going lower.

“He’s worked a lot on his mechanics this year. He’s come a long way for a kid who never ran track before.”

Wright will be running in the Division III state semifinals in both events Friday morning at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.

He comes in with with the fourth-fastest time in 100 dash (10.91 seconds) and the eighth fastest in a crowded 200 field (22.29 seconds).

“You never know down there,” Thrasher said. “Some people surprise people and some people become anxious and nervous. If he does, it will be a learning experience.”

The top two in each heat and the next five fastest times advance to Saturday’s state finals.

Wright will be running in lane 5 in both dashes and will only have to look to his left to see where he stands. He will be running beside defending state runner-up Beau Sloan of Milford Center Fairbanks in the 100 dash and beside last year’s third-place finisher Josh Verhoff of Kalida in the 200 dash.

Rain is in the forecast for the state track meet in Columbus.

“I’m looking at the weather and he should be OK,” Thrasher said. “He’s an outdoor kid and is used to being outside in the rain.”

Wright reached the regional final in the 100 dash as a freshman last year, but came up two places short of state.

“Last year, it was all new to him,” Thrasher said. “When you start having success, every kid thinks, ‘Hey, this is easy.’ Then he got to the regional finals.”

Wright admitted he was overconfident last year and vowed to be better prepared for the competition.

“That was good for him,” Thrasher said “Losing is not always a bad thing. It teaches you a lot, especially about yourself.

“He hasn’t been overconfident at all this year.”