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Johnson to be Collegiate Athlete

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To Run Track at MSSU this Fall

Almost every high school athlete says it's been a dream to play college sports after signing a letter of intent.    Not Jonathan Johnson.  "Even at January 1 this year, I was against running track in college," he said. "It just didn't feel right. I just wanted to end my high school season and move on to college. But I spoke with Caleb Hoover. He's a professional athlete and also a graduate here at College Heights. He spoke about his high school and college experiences, and it made me rethink about doing college track."

Now Johnson is looking forward to college track, and he signed Wednesday afternoon (April 27) to join Missouri Southern's program.

Johnson, a standout sprinter for the Cougars, chose the Lions over Pittsburg State.  "I met with both, and they both had a lot to offer," Johnson said. "But when it came down to it, Missouri Southern's team and coach, I felt a connection there."

Johnson holds school records for the 100 meters (10.91 seconds), 200 (22.04) and 400 (49.48).

"My favorite is probably the 400," he said. "When I'm running it, I just feel free. To hear the crowd and to push the other runners to do their best, it pushes me to do the best that I can."

He also has run on the 4x400 and 4x800 relays. At last year's state meet, Johnson ran a 1:55.97 anchor leg as the Cougars won the 4x800 state crown.

"It's fun," Johnson said. "Last year at state when I ran it, I had to catch the next guy. That's what makes it fun for me, when I get to catch people and they push me to do my best. That's where I get to see how much I can do. We ended up with a state championship."

"I have never seen any track athlete with the range Jon has," Cougars coach Daniel Lewis said. "He can win at every distance from the 100 meters through the 1600 meters.

"Furthermore, he has contributed to an attitude of hard work that has strengthened our program and has created a legacy that will continue while is is competing at Southern and beyond. We wish Jon the best of luck and are glad he will be competing close enough to continue to watch him run."

Johnson, the son of Dr. Jeff and Francene Johnson, said he's been running as long as he can remember. "My mom has been a runner," he said. "She was a high school superstar back in the day (in Ohio). Growing up, she's been the assistant track coach here at College Heights. Being with the track team a lot has developed my passion, so to speak. When I got to high school, that's when it's been about how far can I go, what can I do. The records that were there before were my inspiration to do better and to push myself to see how fast I can be."

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