Warriors’ Alex Johnson joins first cousin on South Alabama track and field team

Alex Johnson will be joining first cousin Mary Hayes Johnson on the University of South Alabama track and field team this fall. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director

CENTRE – Cherokee County High School senior athlete Alex Johnson said he and his first cousin Mary Hayes Johnson have always trained well together for track and field season.

They’ll continue to do so in college now as well.

Alex, who is two weeks removed from earning three gold medals at the Class 4A state meet in Gulf Shores, will be joining Mary Hayes at the University of South Alabama this fall. He signed with Jaguars on Wednesday. Mary Hayes signed with the school back in November.

“I’m really excited about that,” Alex said. “I think me and Hayes, whenever we’re together, we usually perform better together. I think us staying together, we’ll be able to shock some more people down in Mobile.”

Shocking people doesn’t come as a surprise to Alex. During his junior year after football season, he ran in a meet at Oneonta. He broke his foot and couldn’t run the rest of the season, but he made it his mission to get back on the track.

Mission accomplished.

Alex finished his high school career by winning the 100-meter dash (10.73), the 200-meter dash (21.68) and the 400-meter dash (49.68) at the state meet.

It was a performance Cherokee County High School boys track and field coach Shawn Turner said was remarkable.

“The thing I appreciate about Alex is he’s always been the type to work hard, and we’re seeing it pay off,” Turner said. “We saw him develop and develop and develop into what turned into a phenomenal showing at the state track meet. I’ve never been around or coached a track athlete who came in first in three events. I don’t know if that’s ever happened (at Cherokee County High School). To see what this young man did this past season is nothing short of phenomenal. It goes back to that saying hard work always pays off, and it paid off for him by signing a scholarship with South Alabama.”

Things all went according to plan, Alex said.

“I tried to bounce back as hard as I could this year and it worked out well for me,” Alex he said. “I finished out with a PR (personal record) and three state championship gold medals. That was the plan all along coming into the season, and I got it done.”

He plans on getting a lot more done down in Mobile also.

“They’ve got a really good sprint coach (Lyndell Farmer). I think he can get me a lot faster and where I need to be for the SBC (Sun Belt Conference) Championships and nationals next year.”

Even though he’s excited about the opportunity to run at the Division I level, Alex said it’s bittersweet for him to be leaving Cherokee County. He said he’s thankful for all the community has given him.

“I love this place,” he said. “I just want to give thanks for everything Cherokee County has done for me. It’s been the best years of my entire life, but now I just want to go on to college and continue to perform.”

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