All-News4JAX girls track and field: Creekside’s Alyson Johnson picks up the pace

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Alyson Johnson was a soccer player until her love for running changed those plans.

Only a freshman, Johnson, the All-News4JAX girls track and field athlete of the year, was a double distance state champ for Creekside in a breakout debut season. She still loves soccer. That’s what Johnson grew up playing. But running — and her excellence in it — has put Johnson on the fast track to being something special in the sport.

That fast start, and championships in the 1600 and 3200 races, sets the table for Johnson to push the bar for Creekside distance runners to a new level.

Only Johnson didn’t start out with ambitions of torching opponents on the track. Johnson was all about soccer most of her life. Running just sort of happened along the way. Now, it’s the sport that Johnson is laser-focused in on, and positioned to be the next force at.

“At the end of seventh grade, coming into eighth grade, I started getting more into running,” Johnson said. “And then once I started running, I decided I liked it so much that I was not going to do soccer anymore, just focus on running. … So, I kind of picked it up a little bit later.”

Johnson started out with the smaller events like fun runs and 5Ks. That ultimately led to her giving cross country a shot. It’s been the perfect match ever since. Johnson finished sixth in the Class 4A state cross country meet last October, but really hit her stride this track season. She went her season-low to win districts in the 3200 (10:43.7), then had a PR of 4:54.37 to take the 1600 at state. She’s already shaved 20 seconds from her 3200 time and nearly 4 seconds off her 1600 time.

“It was really awesome. I was really excited for states. I’m really happy that everything worked out. And just all the hard work I put in has really paid off,” Johnson said. “I knew I could do it but I was also really pleased with the ways I executed what my goals were and really got the times I really wanted to get.”

Distance runners have carved out a niche at Creekside. From boys stars Jimmy and Matthew Clark to girls runners Claire Openshaw and Elizabeth Ashlyn Iliff, the Knights have cranked out superb distance runners.

Johnson is next in line for that. While the Class 4A state meet at Hodges Stadium felt like a parade of Creekside runners atop the podium, Johnson’s state success was just the crowning achievement. She won 12 of her 13 meets in the 1600 and 3200 this year.

Johnson finished third in the other, the 1600 in the Florida Relays, right behind Eliana Black and Madeleine Gear of Cambridge Christian. Those two runners are the only ones in the state who posted faster times than Johnson this year. A duel of Black and Johnson is bound to happen at an event or two over the next three years since both are rising sophomores who thrive in the distance races.

I think I’ve just always had a lot of endurance, that’s helped with the longer events in track,” she said. “But I also try and work on speed and stuff so I can keep improving all around in every event.”

All-News4JAX track and field first team

Event, Athlete, School, Class

100: Skyy Dixon, Providence, Jr.

Class 1A state champ. Season-low time of 11.59. Had four victories this season.

200: Janay Moorer, Creekside, Jr.

Turned in PR of 24.16 in regional championship finish. Finished 11th at state.

400: Janay Moorer, Creekside, Jr.

State runner-up with a PR of 54.19 in Class 4A state meet. District and region champ.

800: Ka’Myya Haywood, Bishop Kenny, Sr.

State runner-up in 2A. Ran her top time (2:09.01) at FSU Relays. Five victories this season, including district and region. Tennessee signee.

1600: Alyson Johnson, Creekside, Fr.

Dominant freshman season for the All-News4JAX athlete of the year. Won seven events, including 4A state title with a season-best 4:54.37.

3200: Jillian Candelino, Bolles, Sr.

Superb career ended with five wins in six events this season, including district, region and 2A state title with season low time (10:35.15).

100 hurdles: Brittney Jennings, Sandalwood, Jr.

Class 4A state runner-up. District, region, Gateway and Bob Hayes champ, too. Clocked season-best 13.8 at Bob Hayes.

400 hurdles: Sasha Gregory, Nease, Sr.

Ran a season-best 1:02.84 in region runner-up finish. District champ. Finished sixth in Class 4A state meet.

High jump: Sasha Gregory, Nease, Sr.

Cleared 5 feet at the Bolles Sprint Field Meet. District champ. Region runner-up. Finished fourth at 4A state meet.

Long jump: Sasha Gregory, Nease, Sr.

Went 19-0.5 to win the FSU Relays. Won four times this season, including district. Fourth-place finish at 4A state meet.

Triple jump: Presley Wolfe, Bolles, Jr.

Had a season-best 39-7 at both district and the Bolles Sprint Field Meet. District and region champ. Sixth at 2A state meet.

Pole vault: Vivian Stovall, Bolles, Sr.

State champ cleared season-best 12-3.75 to win the region meet. Had five wins this season.

Shot put: Aliyah Robertson, Mandarin, Sr.

Had a season-best 42-1.25 to win the district meet. Region runner-up and third at 4A state meet.

Javelin: Alexandra Bohanon, Beachside, So.

Barracudas star had a 137-5 to win at the FSU Relays. District and region champ. Took third in 2A state meet. Had 11 total wins this season. Had nine wins this season.

Discus: Zee Curtis, Bolles, Jr.

Had her best throw of 144-7.25 at Bolles Sprint Field Meet. State champ. Region champ. Had seven wins this season.

400 relay: Sandalwood

Foursome of Emani George, Brittney Jennings, Niobe Mims and Amani Jones ran 47 flat to win the Gateway Conference title.

1600 relay: Creekside

Team of Ava Maki, Sofia Killins, Janay Moorer and Melissa Epting went program-best 3:48.99 in the prelims at Florida Relays. Fourth at 4A state meet.

3200 relay: Bolles

Team of Isabella Lee, Elizabeth Csikai, Jillian Candelino and Leila Bata blazed their way to a 9:18.04 to win the 2A state title by nearly 10 seconds.

All-News4JAX track and field second team

Event, Athlete, School, Class

100: Skyler Watts, Episcopal, Jr.: Season-best time (11.77) came in victory at Bartram Trail Thursday Night Spikes event. Third place at 2A state meet.

200: Emani George, Sandalwood, Sr.: District champ with a best of 24.29. Gateway, and Bob Hayes champ, too.

400: Ka’Myya Haywood, Bishop Kenny, Sr.: Class 2A state champ who ran her best time (54.68) to win district. Region champ, too. Won all five meets she entered this year. Tennessee signee.

800: Leila Bata, Bolles, Jr.: Turned in her low of 2:13.22 at the FSU Relays. Region runner-up and 13th in 2A state meet.

1600: Lindy White, Ponte Vedra, Jr.: District and region champ finished 10th in 3A state meet. Low time of 4:57.2 came in winning effort at East Coast Classic

3200: Alyson Johnson, Creekside, Fr.: Season-best time of 10:43.7 came in winning district meet. Class 4A state champ. Won all five events she ran in this season.

100 hurdles: Kayla-Jadyn Cleveland, University Christian, Sr.: State champ with season-best time of 14.09. Won all five times she raced this year.

400 hurdles: Jordan Golden, Atlantic Coast, Sr.: Best time (1:03.45) came in 10th-place finish in 4A state meet. Had two wins this season.

High jump: Gabrielle Flores, Fleming Island, Jr.: Cleared season-best 5 feet in her first meet of the season. District champ and sixth-place finish at 3A state meet.

Long jump: Madison Linscomb, Oakleaf, So.: Went 18-8.5 in a win at Baldwin. Added two other victories this season.

Triple jump: Mikayla Shavers, Fleming Island, Fr.: Went 39-6.5 at the 3A state meet to finish as state runner-up. District and region champ. Added four other wins, too.

Pole vault: Presley Wolfe, Bolles, Jr.: State runner-up. Clearance best was 12-3.75. District champ and region runner-up.

Shot put: Zoe Curtis, Bolles, Jr.: Her season-best 39-10 throw came in winning region title.

Javelin: Madison Linscomb, Oakleaf, So.: Had a 136-11 throw in region championship victory. District title and fourth at 4A state meet. Had six wins this year.

Discus: Neveah Morris, Fernandina Beach, Sr.: Had a 131-5.25 in fourth-place finish at 2A state meet. District champ and region runner-up.

400 relay: Paxon: Quad of Kyndal Turner, Kennedi DeVoux, Selena Robinson and Maddison Green were right behind Sandalwood at Gateway with a 47.1.

1600 relay: Bishop Kenny: Group of Addie Thorson, Clare Coyle, Ka’Myya Haywood and Gabrielle Johnson were state champs with a 3:49.56 in the Class 2A meet.

3200 relay: Bishop Kenny: Davis Johnson, Alexis Holmes, Alexis Wilson and Emily Wheldon clocked a 9:27.34 to finish 2A state runner-up.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.