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Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Athlete of the Week

| Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Athlete of the week

Andrew Johnson

  • School: North Hills

  • Class: Junior

  • Sport: Track and field

  • Notable: Johnson tied a meet record in the 100-meter dash at the 39th Butler Invitational on Friday, winning the event in 10.61 seconds to remain undefeated this season.

    "I was pretty excited about it," Johnson said. "It felt good to be able to run that fast early in the year, especially at a cold, rainy meet."

    Johnson also anchored North Hills' 400-meter relay team to a school-record time of 43.9 seconds Tuesday in a section meet against North Allegheny.

    For his efforts, Johnson is the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Athlete of the Week, sponsored by Fox Sports Net and McDonald's. Tune into Fox Sports Net after tonight's Pirates game for the presentation.

    "That's his fastest time this year, but he went into cruise control at the end, so you know he's capable of doing better," North Hills coach Rick Morris said. "When you watch him run when he's really running -- which isn't often -- you see his talent."

  • Back on track: Johnson almost wasn't allowed to compete in track and field this season.

    He was ruled ineligible for a year by the WPIAL Board of Control for transferring "with athletic intent" from Central Catholic to North Hills in November after Central withdrew from the WPIAL football playoffs.

    "It was in my head a lot," Johnson said. "I had a good year last year. When they said I couldn't run, that was a big letdown."

    The PIAA overturned the case in January, allowing Johnson to compete immediately in track and football.

    "He deserved to be on the track team," Morris said. "What the WPIAL put him and his family through was ridiculous. He's lived in this district since his freshman year."

  • He's next: Morris has had his share of great sprinters at North Hills, most notably LaVar Arrington and Dave Cosnotti, who holds the school record in the 100 at 10.5.

    Johnson might be better than both.

    "He has more talent than those kids," Morris said, "and both those kids had a ton."

    Johnson finished fifth in the WPIAL Class AAA finals as a freshman but pulled his left hamstring in the 200-meter preliminaries last year and didn't qualify for the state meet.

    Morris also plans to use Johnson in the 400- and 1,600-meter relays to help the Indians score points.

    North Hills, which features distance runners Josh Eddy, Ian Fitzgerald and Ian Schreckengost and hurdler Sam Dippold, is one of the WPIAL's top teams.

    "He's a great talent," Morris said of Johnson. "You knew he was going to do well in track. It was great because we became a formidable team on the track."

  • Future in football: Make no mistake, Johnson's future is on the football field.

    Johnson rushed for 2,300-plus yards in two seasons at Central and is considered one of the top prospects in the Class of 2004. He has scholarship offers from Pitt, West Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin and Virginia Tech.

    Morris, who doubles as North Hills' offensive coordinator, is already looking forward having Johnson in his backfield this fall for football season.

    "He's going to be a great tailback," Morris said. "Hopefully, he'll be able to play on both sides of the ball."

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