In her four seasons at Western Carolina, Jessika Johnson has been shining for the Lady Catamounts on the basketball court and is now out leaping opponents in her final season on the Catamount Track and Field team.
Johnson, a senior, who also plays basketball under head coach Kellie Harper for the Lady Cats, has brought home several accomplishments this season for the Catamount Track and Field team including two straight Southern Conference Indoor Championships in the high jump, and one outdoor title as well.
During the Indoor Track season, the Catamounts captured the 2008 Southern Conference Indoor Championships held at Clemson University on the weekend of February 29-March 1. Both the men and the women claimed the crown for the first time in her four years with the school, with Johnson claiming one of the 14 victories of the weekend for both the men and the women.
“The track team’s performance this year has been great. We won the Indoor SoCon title for the first time since I’ve been here,” said Johnson. “I think we have always performed well but we always fell just short of winning until this year.”
In the high jump, Johnson captured the conference crown leaping 1.66 meters to beat out Appalachian State freshman Rebecca Hazeltine, who jumped 1.63 meters.
In her first outdoor event of the season on March 29, Johnson made her season debut and was victorious at the Western Carolina Invitational held at the Catamount Athletic Complex. She won the high jump leaping 1.60 meters, beating out Molly Kennedy of Wake Forest.
“I think I have been doing ok so far,” explained Johnson, “I won the high jump in the Indoor SoCon, but for outdoor I need to start jumping higher to get the same results.”
The Catamount Track Team will travel on April 12 to Clemson for the Solid Orange Classic, and will return home for the Catamount Classic the following week.
The outdoor Southern Conference Championships will be held in Cullowhee at the Catamount Athletic Complex on April 26, and Johnson is confident that she can add another championship trophy to her huge collection before graduation.
“In order to win outdoor I will need to jump like I have done in the past. I will have to jump with the right technique and do the little things right,” said Johnson.
Ten days prior to her outdoor debut, the Lady Catamount basketball team traveled to Murfeesboro, Tennessee to play Middle Tennessee State in the first round of Women’s National Invitational Tournament. Johnson did not expect that game to be her last wearing a Catamount uniform, but the team fell 104-69, ending their season with a 25-9 overall record.
“I was disappointed and so was the team. We know we did not play our best and it hurt because I did not want my last game to end up like that,” said Johnson.
After graduation, Johnson plans on moving back to her native Atlanta and trying to find a job. Later on down the road, she would like to attend graduate school.
Winning the Southern Conference Tournament, playing in the NCAA Tournament under Harper, winning the regular season Southern Conference championship, advancing to the second round of the WNIT, and also winning two straight Indoor SoCon Indoor Track and Field championships, and one outdoor, Johnson has had one winning experience in her four years at Western and she would not change it for the world.
“I loved it here at WCU. I had great teammates and coaches in both sports and I would not have gone to another school,” said Johnson. “I believe I had a very successful four years at Western and I am glad I picked to go here.”