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'It's within my grasp' - Triple Jumper Shawn Johnson to conclude 'epic' Auburn career
June 3, 2016

<em> After earning second-team All-America honors in triple jump in 2015, Shawn Johnson is ready to return to NCAAs.</em>
After earning second-team All-America honors in triple jump in 2015, Shawn Johnson is ready to return to NCAAs.

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala - Already a first-team All-American in high jump, Shawn Johnson hopes to add first-team All-America honors in triple jump in his final meet for Auburn.

“I really think a good way to end my career would be to go to the Olympic trials, but to also come home with a plaque from Oregon would be pretty nice, too,” Johnson says. “Icing on the cake would be to go to the Olympic trials.”

Johnson, a senior, qualified for next week’s NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., with a lifetime-best jump of 16.36m/53-825 at the NCAA East Preliminaries in Jacksonville, Fla.

If Shawn can add one more foot, he’ll earn a return trip to Eugene for the Olympic trials in July.

“It’s within my grasp,” he says. “I just have to put it together. And I’m going to at Eugene.”

Transferring to Auburn from South Plains College in Texas, Johnson was a three-event jumper: triple, long and high.

“My coach thought I’d be better at triple and high jump, so I focused more on that, and I started getting better at triple jump,” he says.

Last year, Johnson became the first Tiger triple jumper in more than a decade to qualify for Outdoor NCAAs, where he placed 14th to earn second-team All-America honors.

He was even more successful in high jump, tying for eighth and making the first team.

This year, Johnson did not qualify in high jump, allowing him to focus solely on triple jump.

“I definitely want to put all of my cards on the table. I want to go ‘all in,’” Johnson says. “My plan is to place at nationals. I really want to come home with a plaque. I want to score points. At Indoor, I said I wanted to get top three, and I really want to get top three, but I’ll be happy with just placing, and bringing home a plaque. Putting up some points on the board for my team.”

In the fraternity of triple jumping, Johnson has developed friendships with rivals all over the country.

“It’s going to be like a big block party,” he says.

When his last jump is completed, Johnson plans to take his public administration degree, and his two pet leopard geckos, Luna and Civeche, back home to Pittsburgh, where he’s counting on an internship to lead to career direction.

That will come later. For now, Johnson is locked in on his takeoff position.

“I’m not really thinking about anything besides taking off from the board,” Johnson says. “That’s the only thing that’s really going through my mind.”

Johnson says he used to depart way behind the board, costing him valuable distance. Lately, he’s timing it just right.

“I just started hitting the board, which is pretty good because I’ve had a long time where I haven’t touched the board,” he says. “Now, I’m starting to hit it.”

From Pennsylvania to the Plains. Johnson’s journey is another Auburn Family All-American success story.

“Pretty epic, I would say,” he says. “I have a lot of friends here, and I just want to let them know that I always have their back, and they have mine. So I just want to say, ‘Thanks’ to them.”

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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