John Curtis senior Justin Horne takes star turns as linebacker, track runner

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Justin Horne

Justin Horne is a two-sport athlete created by a third sport.

More on that third sport later.

The John Curtis Christian School senior plays football and runs track.  It’s not an unusual combination, but when you consider his position on the gridiron and his events on the track, it can make one pause.

“Yeah.  People are surprised when I tell them what position I play in football,” says Horne, a state champion in both sports.

Horne led the Curtis defense last fall as a run-stuffing, sideline-to-sideline linebacker as the Patriots collected the 28th state football title for the River Ridge school.

Justin Horne

On the track, he is a highly-decorated sprinter.  Last week, he streaked to his third consecutive District 9-5A championship in the 110-meter-high hurdles.  He also picked up first place finishes in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles and anchored his school’s 4X400 meter relay team to a first-place finish.

History is full of football/track athletes.  However, it is usually the speedy receiver or running back blazing on the track, not the hard-hitting, physical linebacker who one expects to find scoring points in field events like the shot putt or the discus.

Justin Horne is different in a multitude of ways.

“He’s passionate about his sport.  Passionate about his school or program and making it better,” explained Curtis track coach Preston Curtis.  “Regardless of who we are going to compete against, Justin’s going to compete.  That’s something every coach is looking for.”

It’s important to remember Horne is more than a mere participant in both sports.  He excels.

In football, he collected 144 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks. Horne was voted Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA) Class 5A Defensive Most Valuable Player.

He is also the state’s defending champion in the 110-meter-high hurdles.  Last month, Horne was clocked in a Louisiana-best 13.6 seconds in the event at the Ronnie Doyle Meet. That time is faster than the state composite mark of 13.73 set in 1985.  He can boast of the best time in Louisiana at 37.2 seconds in the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, making him the favorite to win both hurdle events at the state meet.

Impressive numbers for someone who didn’t run track until the eighth grade when he asked his coaches if he could try one of the more technically difficult events in track and field.

“I don’t want to say that running the 100 or 200 is easy, but I just wanted to do something that people would say is too hard for me,” Horne noted. “At the time we already had a designated sprinter, Corey Wren (now at TCU), so I wanted to find something I could do for myself.”

Back to that third sport.

His family runs a martial arts school, so he has been involved in karate since age 2.

“Karate helped me with my flexibility and balance.  I was already fast but I’m still strong and heavy.”

His teammates at Curtis believe he is more than strong and heavy.  The fact that his nickname is “Sensei,” a Japanese word meaning instructor or teacher, is also a sign of his leadership qualities.

Preston Curtis feels there’s no doubt the standards for success in the martial arts align seamlessly with those in track and football.

“The discipline it takes, the repetitive nature of it, perfecting movements fits in with the style of linebacking we play at Curtis.  It’s aggressive and downhill and running the 110 hurdles is the same thing.  It’s aggressive!”

Louisiana has an impressive hurdle heritage.  Southern University produced two of the greatest ever to run the event – Willie Davenport (Olympic Gold 1968 Olympic Bronze 1976) and Rodney Milburn (Olympic Gold 1972).  New Orleans native Thomas Hill won a bronze medal in Munich in 1972 and LSU’s Eric Reid was NCAA Champion in 1987.

Justin Horne is headed to Texas Tech University in Lubbock where he will compete in both football and track.

“Their track and football programs together were the best out of all my options.  Right now, their track team is ranked number two in the nation and the football program is really coming on.”  Horne added, “I also like the coaches in Lubbock because they are a lot like the coaches I have here at Curtis.”

Justin Horne will close his prep track career with the regionals sets for Wednesday, April 26 in Thibodaux.  The LHSAA State Championship Track and Field Meet is set for Bernie Moore Stadium in Baton Rouge, May 6.


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