Mansfield High girls’ track coach Danny Calderon thinks senior star Jill Johnson’s encore could be even more memorable than her crowning moment.
“I think she should win state again,” Calderon told Texas Scorecard of his star high-jumper who is set to defend her state crown in the event this weekend in Austin. “This is her fourth straight year of competing at the state meet, so she definitely knows what to expect.”
That Johnson walked away as the undisputed champ when the odds seemed to be most stacked against her tells you what you most need to know about her, according to Calderon.
“In her first and second year, she finished second at state in the event,” he said. “As a junior, she qualified as a provisional qualifier. It’s like she locked in and her mindset was a little different. She just pictured herself being what she knew she could be.”
In just his first-year as head coach of the program back then, Calderon said working with Johnson over her first two years while an assistant track coach and as head coach of the cross country program had always allowed him to see the signs.
“She’s a competitor and a great athlete,” he said. “All year long, she works as hard as anyone you’ll find in getting herself ready. She’s talented, but she’s also a worker.”
Everyone, from Johnson’s teammates to those eyeing her from afar, has taken notice.
“She’s a leader, team captain, and the girls really follow her lead,” Calderon added. “When we have workouts, she always helps lead the drills and stretches and is always among the first ones finished. She leads by example and is not bossy or condescending. She’s really been a blessing to work with on the field and off.”
Calderon added Johnson has verbally committed to attend TCU, where as a scholarship athlete she could compete in both the high jump and the decathlon.
“She’s also a good hurdler and long jumper and also runs the 100, 200 and 400 meters,” he said. “She’s all about visualization and believing in herself.”