(Photo by Andy Warrener)
With four state titles to her name, Lake Brantley's Sinclaire Johnson has been posting top times throughout her high school career. With a sub-5 1600, sub-2:10 800, and 18:03.39 XC 5K, Johnson's wide range of skills caught the attention of many collegiate programs before she verbally committed to Oklahoma State University earlier this week.
"I really didn't realize how many great programs there are until the process started," Johnson said. "July 1st was definitely a shock to me because of all the phone calls, but I am very grateful to have gone through something like this."
Johnson took official visits to the University of Texas, Harvard University and the University of Alabama, along with an unofficial visit to UCF. She narrowed it down to Oklahoma State and Alabama, and ultimately, in what she calls one of the toughest things she's had to do, picked the Pokes over the Tide.
"They are both amazing programs with great coaches and wonderful teams," Johnson said. "In the end it was the fact that I couldn't see myself saying no to Coach Dave Smith. And I am very excited to be able to run for him and be apart of what they are building at OSU."
Johnson's strong suit is in track, where she holds two 4A state championships in the 1600 and two in the 800, along with the FHSAA state meet record in the 800. Still a versatile athlete, she placed second in the 4A cross country meet last year and wants to contribute to both the cross country and track teams at Oklahoma State.
"I think I have a lot of room to grow in cross country, so I am very excited to see what I can do with a different training program," she said about her collegiate plans. "Although the 800 is by far my favorite event, I am very curious to find out what my best event will be in college."
A middle distance runner, Johnson will be at home at Oklahoma State, which has a strong middle distance group, with multiple girls running between 2:01 and 2:05 for the 800. Johnson's PR of 2:08.71 from last year's state meet is still a few seconds outside of that range, so she hopes to hit the 2:05 mark this track season. Even that would put her in the back end of the range, not a place the four-time state champion is used to being. But she's up for the task.
"I think what I am looking forward to most about OK State is being an underdog at the school," she said. "I know I will have to work harder than I ever have before and I am more than willing to accept the challenge!"
(Photo by Cedric Gillette)
As for cross country, Johnson hasn't had the best senior season thus far. She ran a season best of 19:33.85 at the Seminole Athletic Conference, where she ran a 18:07.27 in 2014. Prior to that race, she had not broken the 20-minute barrier.
"With an IT band issue in the beginning of the season and visits every weekend, the season has been a little rocky," she said. "But with all of this now done, I'm definitely excited to get some great training in before the championship season is in full swing!
Johnson has qualified for states as an individual since her first year racing as a freshman. Lake Brantley, however, hasn't made it out of 4A Region 1 as a team in over six years. Now, Johnson has a team of four new freshman behind her and hopes to help lead them to a state berth as well as getting back into old form."We have all gotten so close this year and I love having 4 new sisters to take under my wing. So with that being said, my number one goal is to do whatever it takes to aid my team in making it to state," she said. "As for individual goals, I am determined to end my season with a sub-18 minute 5K!"