乐动体育After winning a gold medal in the decathlon during the 1960 Rome Olympics, Kingsburg native Rafer Johnson became immortalized in American history. For Johnson, however, that feat is only one part of a long resume.
Among his long list of athletic achievements, Johnson was a gold medalist in the 1955 Pan American Games. In 1958, he was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year. As a high school student in Kingsburg, he earned varsity letters in football, baseball, basketball and track.
乐动体育Following his Olympic days, Johnson dedicated himself to the development of the Special Olympics. During the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Johnson was chosen to ignite the Olympic flame.
For the past seven years, in honor of the Olympic gold medalist, the Kingsburg High School track and field team has hosted the Rafer Johnson Invitational.
乐动体育“We have one of the greatest athletes ever that walked the face of the Earth,” Kingsburg Athletic Director Thom Sembritzki said. “All the stuff he did with his career is just awesome. And the fact that he still comes down to do all the stuff for the junior high, for graduation. We’re pretty fortunate here.”
On Saturday, 17 schools from Fresno County competed in the event.
乐动体育The Vikings did their part to satisfy the home crowd. Emmett Brooks led the team with a first-place finish in the 100-meter run (11.36), a first-place finish in the high jump (6-3), and first place in the long jump (21-10).
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“I had some competition in the [100-meter run]. I wasn’t ready for that,” Brooks said. “When I saw a guy next to me, I had to get going.”
Emmett Brooks and twin brother, Seth Brooks, joined Austin Martin and Jadon Barros to bring a third-place finish for the 4x100 relay team. Seth Brooks also took first in the triple jump (45-11.50). Andrew Vorhees contributed for the Vikings with a first-place finish in shot put (51-09). Samuel Hinrichs took second in pole vault (11-09).
On the girls side, Peyton Woods took third in the 200-meter run (27.48). Kalen Abe took fourth in the 1600-meter run (5:44.39), and Mariah Bergman took fourth in the triple jump (31-10). Kylee Silva, Kassidy Wilson, Lauren Wilson and Peyton Woods took fourth in the 4x400 relay (4:24.32) — four seconds off the school record.
乐动体育“They will get [the record] next time for sure,” Kingsburg coach Amanda Hodges said. “Everybody is doing really well. They’re working hard.”
乐动体育Following the spring break, the Vikings will resume with the Sanger Easter Classic on March 22.
“Hopefully everybody keeps practicing and we’ll get better,” Hodges said.
乐动体育Sembritzki hopes that the students will always remember the legacy of Johnson.
“You’re trying to get out of college, get a job, have children, you worry about raising your family and you go with the flow until you look back and go ‘wow this was really important,’” Sembritzki said. “Whatever it takes to remind people what a great ambassador for Kingsburg, the Unites States, the Olympic movement — whatever we can do remind people of that, the better we’ll be.”
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