As the 2023 high school cross-country season approaches, all eyes are on Alyson Johnson of Creekside High School. Despite just starting her sophomore year, Johnson is already considered one of the top distance runners in Florida. She had a stellar freshman cross country season, placing 6th at the 2022 Class 4A State Cross Country Championships to lead her team to a 4th place finish. Johnson built on that with an impressive track season, capturing the Class 4A state titles in the 1600m (4:54.37) and 3200m (10:49.47).
Johnson’s times as a freshman have cemented her status as a rising star in Class 4A and one of the top young talents in the state. Her 10:23.73 for 3200m that was run at the Running Lane Track Championships ranks her at the top among the all-time great freshmen in Florida history. Johnson also won the 15-16 3000m race at the AAU Junior Olympics, demonstrating her national potential.
As she enters her sophomore season, one would guess that Johnson has several goals. First is leading Creekside to a team trophy after their 4th-place finish last year. Creekside returns 5 of the top 7 runners from last year. Individually, she is likely eyeing to capture the Class 4A individual state championship, an ambitious aim but within reach for the young talent. A title would establish Johnson as one of the top prep runners from the state of Florida as just a sophomore.
Johnson’s main competition will come from Annabella Cardona of G. Holmes Braddock, who finished 4th at the 2022 4A state meet. Emily Knopfle of Olympia High School, the 2nd place finisher last year, also figures to contend. Outside of the battle for 4A supremacy, fellow sophomore and defending 1A state champion Eliana Black of Cambridge Christian boasts the best 5K time returning in any class at 17:15. She, no doubt, will challenge Johnson at some of the bigger invites throughout the season.
While just a sophomore, Johnson has already shown a glimpse that she should be mentioned in the same breath as other 4A legends. Jenny Simpson (Berringer), the former American record holder in the steeplechase and 1500m World Champion, was a star at Oviedo High. Lake Brantley’s Sinclair Johnson won NCAA and US national titles in the 1500m. Wellington’s Ashley Brasovan was a Footlocker National Champion, and Parker Valby of East Lake was a 5000m NCAA National Champion.
At just the start of her high school career, Alyson Johnson has already established herself as one of the top prep female runners Florida has produced in recent years. Her times as a freshman stack up with anyone at that stage. A strong sophomore cross-country season culminating in a state title would elevate her status even further. There is no doubt Johnson has both the talent and drive to achieve this.
See Also: Chasing Greatness – Patrick Koon