4×100 Team Wins State After Tough Spring Season

4×100 Team Wins State After Tough Spring Season

Published August 3, 2022

Our spring athletic teams endured setbacks due to the cold, wet weather that canceled many practices and meets. At one point, the track team ran laps and practiced long jumps in the hallways outside the history and art classrooms. Unfortunately the lack of proper running surfaces increased students’ injuries, and even when the team could practice on a track, it was off campus at 6 a.m.

But the season had a thrilling end. The 4×200 team of Callie Coughlin, Ada Dekkers, Grethe Helseth, and Mehlayna Straub came in 2nd in the state in their Class AA competition and those same girls won the State Championship title in the 4×100.  

While thrilled, Coach Shani Johnson points to God as the real hero of the day.  “We prayed before the race that the Lord would surprise us and work in a way exceeding anything we could ask or imagine. And He did! I hope these girls never forget the way we surrendered the outcome to God, and the way He answered their prayers in such a big way.” 

Johnson even credits the hardships and trials of the season with some of the success at the end. “The conditions weren’t ideal at times, but the kids knew it wasn’t our job to complain, but to use the resources we had to do our best.” And she credits that perseverance with 7-10 personal records occurring at every single meet.

Johnson understands the way struggles in athletics can shape an athlete’s understanding of herself and her relationship with God. “Sports equip you with perseverance but also help you see the difference between what God gifts you to do and who you are.” Johnson herself learned this lesson during many years of athletic training. 

Johnson gets excited about the idea of watching athletes try a new sport like track. One of the most surprising stories this year was of State Champ Grethe Helseth. “Track rewards anyone with a competitive spirit regardless of experience, so more kids should just try it.” 

For instance, “Grethe hadn’t really participated in sports much, so we just threw her in a bunch of events. We found she was good at everything, but she was clueless about how naturally good she was. She was just willing to try, and she ended up beating records and winning State, shocking herself!” Johnson adds that shepherding young people like this is thrilling. “You live for these moments when you see these gifts get drawn out of the kids!”

The SWCHS track program will benefit from training spaces in our new athletic expansion, but the most important work is already being done by Coach Johnson in mentoring and pointing athletes to rely on God, understand their identity in Him, and run the race God has planned for each student with trust and perseverance.


Read more about Coach Johnson’s journey as an athlete in our Summer Compass magazine.