After spending her time at Mount Gilead excelling at cross country and track, Allison Johnson will try to maintain that success at Penn State University.
“Obviously, it was a little bit nerve-racking,” she said of her decision, which led her to a Division I Big Ten school. “I took a lot of time and had questions figuring out where I wanted to go. I’m so ecstatic.”
While Johnson had five schools that she was interested in, Penn State was able to win out based on her gut feeling.
“With Penn State, I got the home feeling from them,” she said. “It was a gut decision. All of the five, I could see myself going there.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson wasn’t able to make the same sorts of official visits she would normally make in the process of choosing a school.
“It made my decision a lot harder,” she said. “I did lots of nights of Zoom calls with them.”
Johnson was likely a coveted recruit for the Nittany Lions. Not only was she very successful at Mount Gilead, she was also a very diverse competitor for the Indians. While she ran cross country in the fall, when it came time to participate in track, she took part in the majority of events, experiencing a lot of success in about everything she tried.
As a cross country runner, she finished fourth in the state this fall for her best personal state meet finish. Previously, she had been fifth as a freshman, 13th as a sophomore and ninth as a junior. Not only was she an All-Ohio runner all four years, but also earned spots on the podium each time.
In track, she tended to focus on mid-distance and hurdling events, as well as the pole vault. While her junior year was wiped out in that sport, she had lots of success her first two years. As a freshman, she took fourth in the 300 hurdles and sixth in the 100 hurdles, while also being part of the third-place 3200-meter relay. In her sophomore year, she won the 800-meter run and took second in the 100 hurdles. She also qualified in the 400 and pole vault, but didn’t compete in those at state in order to focus on two events.
That versatility gives her a lot of options in college.
“It was kind of like a group discussion,” she said. “They see me in the mid-distance group and then compete in cross country.”
With how there are additional collegiate events, she also has even more potential options, such as the heptathlon and steeplechase — a positive for Johnson, as she enjoyed competing in a lot of different events.
“I thought about it a lot,” she said of the heptathlon. “I love mid-distance more than multi-events. I definitely love hurdles and it’ll be hard to give them up, but there is the steeplechase. I couldn’t see myself not running cross country.”
She noted that competing in a lot of different events definitely helped her time management skills.
“I love being able to be versatile in high school,” she said. “It’s a lot of running around and time management skills. I’ll run and then do hurdles and if I have time, get on the pole vault.”
Johnson, who will major in kinesiology at Penn State, will miss a lot about competing at Mount Gilead after the 2021 track season has concluded.
“I’m definitely going to miss my coaches and teammates a lot,” she said. “They’re a lot like brothers and sisters and my coaches have been the best role models. It’ll be hard to not see them every day.”
However, she also is really looking forward to the competition she’ll be facing at Penn State.
“I’m so excited for the competition,” she said. “Every race will be like nationals and the state meet. I think it will help me develop a lot as an athlete. It’ll help me get a lot faster with the new facilities and coaches.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS