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Johnson running her way toward Beijing

• Canyon High grad runs in U.S. Olympic Trials today

Posted: June 27, 2008 2:12 a.m.
Updated: August 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.

A lot has changed since Alysia Johnson left Canyon High School with three CIF Titles and a State Championship in the 800 meters.

Mainly, she's a lot faster. As in under two minutes in the 800 fast.

Fast enough to have been named Pac-10 Women's Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2007 and 2008 at UC Berkeley. Fast enough to have an NCAA and U.S. Championship on her mantle.

And fast enough to be in the running for an Olympic spot starting today at the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.

She broke the two-minute mark for the first time on June 9, 2007, and has improved her high school time by almost 10 seconds.

"She just keeps getting better," said her high school coach at Canyon, Paul Broneer.

Johnson pulled out of the semifinals of the NCAA championships two weeks ago for precautionary reasons with a sore foot.

Broneer said he expects her to be just fine. After all, this is a women who doesn't mind putting in the hours.

So it came as no surprise to him to see her catapult to the nation's top 800 runner.

"She likes to work hard, it's something she actually enjoys," Broneer said.

Broneer thought Johnson, who was also a good long jumper, would be successful in any track and field event she pursued, but he convinced Canyon girls' coach Dave DeLong to focus on sprints.

DeLong, whose daughter is living with Johnson in Berkeley, will be on hand at the trials. He'll have another Canyon track alum to watch too.

Lauren Fleshman, who graduated from Stanford in 2003 following a stellar high school career at Canyon, will run in the 5,000 meters, starting Monday.

"Just to have them on our team was incredible," Broneer said. "To see them now at this stage in the game, ranked No. 1 in the country in their events, both coming from the same school together...I think the kids we have now say, ‘Wow.'"

Fleshman came out for a training session at Canyon last year and had the boys team on her heels.

Even though they run different events, her and Johnson have come back and worked out together occasionally during summers.

Broneer said having athletes like Fleshman and Johnson brings credibility to the program. He hopes some of the habits he installed in his runners have paid off, but ultimately prefers to take a back seat. He'll just be proud watching.

"I hope I had a small part of (Johnson's) success, but they're the athletes," he said.


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