GRANADA - Granada-Huntley-East Chain senior standout Josh Johanson literally elevated the sport of high school track and field to new heights during the 2013 spring campaign.
Now, the Madelia/Truman/GHEC/Martin Luther Jayhawk trackster will take his spikes and outstanding vertical leap to the next level in the fall.
Johanson officially signed his national letter of intent on March 13 to compete for the Concordia University Golden Bears men's track and field team in St. Paul next season.
SIGN OF THE FUTURE — Granada-Huntley-East Chain senior three-sport standout Josh Johanson signs his national letter of intent on March 13 to compete for the Concordia University Golden Bears track and field program in St. Paul next season. Granada-Huntley-East Chain athletic director and assistant track and field coach Terry Bentele (left) and Madelia/Truman/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Martin Luther head coach Rick Uttech accompany Johanson during the signing. (Photo courtesy of Sue Petrowiak)
"Concordia's facilities are awesome, and the meets are close enough that my entire family will have the chance to get to them," said Johanson, who cleared a career-best height of 6 feet, 5 inches to capture runner-up accolades in the Class A state high jump competition a year ago. "My family has always supported me in everything that I've done in my life, so it's nice to be able to give something back."
Ironically, Gary Johanson - Josh's uncle - also has provided both the encouragement and motivation for the younger Johanson to aim at eclipsing a school record in a field event outside of his specialty.
"The previous high jump record of 6-3 was set back in 1975, so it had been around for a long time. I knew it could be broken," Josh Johanson said with a smile.
Although he would like to match or even better his own school-record leap of 6-5 in the high jump this spring, Johanson also has his sights set on erasing another long-standing mark - his uncle's - in the long jump pit.
"This year, I'd like to go for my uncle's long jump record of 20-10. It's an East Chain record that's been around for some time, but I think I can do it if I keep working at it," said Johanson, who reached a career-best of 19-8 three times during his junior year.
In fact, Johanson cleared 19-6 to earn a bronze medal in the long jump; hopped, skipped and jumped to 38-4 to also place third in the triple jump; and struck gold in the high jump at 6-3 to help guide the Jayhawks to the 2013 Valley Conference boys track and field team championship.
Johanson then qualified for the Class A state high jump competition by arching his back over the bar at 6-2 during the Section 2 Meet in Mankato.
While the Jayhawk phenom later exited Hamline University in St. Paul with a silver medal draped around his neck, when recently asked about competing at last year's state meet, a smile crossed the normally serene Johanson's face.
"There were so many people in the stands watching at the state meet. I felt like the crowd really got my adrenaline pumping and it carried over when I got to the high jump area," said Johanson.
The GHEC three-sport standout, however, channeled that energy internally into a positive effect without showing it outwardly to his state rivals.
"Everybody else was stretching and listening to their I-pods, but I was just trying to stay relaxed. That's what keeps me thinking about what I have to do and focused on the task at hand," said Johanson.
Obviously, Johanson's method works, and hopefully, he will close out his stellar prep track and field career with another appearance at the Class A state meet on June 6-7 in St. Paul.
Then, Johanson will join Golden Bears head coach Sam Johnson's athletic family at Concordia University, where he will major in biology with an intent of attending dental school.
"The first time I visited Concordia last fall, most of the track team came when I was there," said Johanson. "That definitely gave me a true sense of family within the program."