Wellsville star attracts plenty of attention
WELLSVILLE — It’s easy to see why track fans are flocking to see Wellsville junior sprinter Justin Wright.
“I’m putting up good times,” he said.
Wright has posted some of the top times in the state in the 100-meter dash (10.57 seconds) and 200-meter dash (21.64 seconds) heading into the Division III state meet Friday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“He hears it,” Wellsville coach Randy Thrasher said. “Luckily, I don’t think he believes in everything people say. He’s a down-to-earth kid.”
It’s hard for Wright to believe that many people want to see him.
“I don’t really think so,” he said. “I hear from a lot of people that come to the meets, but I don’t believe them.”
“He appreciates it, but I don’t think it motivates him,” Thrasher said.
Wright enters Friday’s state preliminaries with the top regional time in the 100 dash (10.70) and second fastest in the 200 dash (21.81). He also ranks fourth in the long jump (21-11 1/2).
“It helps me know where I am,” Wright said. “Each meet I look at what people run.”
He remembers where he was last year when he lost the 100-meter dash by 1/100th of a second. How many times has he it crossed his mind since?
“A lot,” Wright said. “That’s all I thought about all season. I want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. My main goal is to get the gold.”
What if he would get second place again?
“I’ve thought about it,” Wright said. “I don’t want to end that way again. I’m looking for a first.”
“He’s worked so hard for it,” Thrasher said. “He’s a workout fanatic. I’ve never had an athlete who works out like he does.”
Thrasher said Wright enjoys the preparation as much as the competition.
“He is at the YMCA at 6 a.m. all the time,” Thrasher said. “He worked so hard last summer, I was worried he was working too hard.
“His work ethic is unmatched. Second place was not good good enough for Justin. If he wins this year, it will not be good enough for him.”
Wright is willing to do anything the coaches ask of him.
“He’s a yes sir kid and that’s something that’s nice today,” Thrasher said. “He’s well grounded. He’s a 3.8 or 3.9 student and really works at his schoolwork. He knows the best way to get into college is not only by his athletic ability.”
It sure wouldn’t hurt having state champion by his name. He’s dreamed of standing on top of the podium in front of thousands of fans at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.
“Every single night since last year,” Wright said.
¯ Wright’s top competition looks to be Kalida senior Josh Verhoff , who is first in the 200 dash (21.64) and second in the 100 (10.90).
At state last year, Verhoff was sixth in the 200 dash and 13th in the 100 dash.
“It’s anybody’s race down there and everyone wants to run their best times,” Wright said.
¯ Wright has finished second in each the 100 and 200 dashes just once this season. Crestview’s Dylan Huff beat him at the Columbiana County Meet in the 200 dash.
“I don’t think it bothered him as much as some people think,” Thrasher said. “He was tired that day.”
Wright said he went for the county meet records in the preliminaries in both sprints because he thought it would be raining for the finals.
“I put up a good time (in the final) and it wasn’t enough,” he said. “I was chasing records. I was gassed.”
¯ Wright and Huff didn’t really get to know each other until after that county race.
“When we crossed the finished line, I turned to him and said, “I told you I was I was coming at you,’” Huff said. “That’s when our friendship started.”
Now it’s like a ritual during every meet with the runners trading friendly banter.
“The Crestview boys are amazing runners,” Wright said. “We’ll talk a little bit of smack back and forth.”