Tonganoxie’s Johnson headed to Arkansas State for track and field
When an athlete is a two-sport standout, that usually means a decision must be made come college time.
Tonganoxie High senior LeeRoi Johnson approached that fork in the road this past fall — play football at the collegiate level or pursue a track career.
Johnson chose the latter, as he signed a National Letter of Intent on Nov. 27 to compete in track at Arkansas State.
The THS senior also was looking at some powerhouse schools for football in Northern Iowa, North Dakota State and South Dakota State. NDSU, for instance, is playing for another FCS national championship this Saturday in Frisco, Texas, and won five consecutive national titles from 2011-15.
But in talking to both football and track coaches, Johnson, who wants to eventually go to optometry school, found that the track schedule better served him in allowing more time for studies.
Plus, he’s not to shabby in field events.
Johnson placed seventh in discus as a freshman and fifth as a sophomore before bringing home a gold medal in the event as a junior this past May. He also placed third in shot put at state his junior year and ranked in the top 25 nationally in discus at the high school level in 2017. He also set and then broke his own school record a handful of times before recording a throw of 180 feet, 3 inches at state outside Cessna Stadium on the Wichita State University campus.
The standout earned all-Kaw Valley League and all-state honors throughout his football career at THS. He also was last year’s athlete of the year on the Lawrence Journal-World all-area track and field team.
Johnson is expected to compete in discus and shot put at ASU, though coaches also would like him to compete in the hammer throw.
They told him he likely would excel at hammer throw because of his current technique.
“I really liked when I went on my official visit a few months ago,” Johnson said. “It was really nice. I got to hang out with the throwers … they seemed like good people.”
Arkansas State is an NCAA Division I school in Jonesboro, Ark.
Jim Patchell enters his eighth year at the helm for the Red Wolves track and field program, which also his is alma mater.
The men’s team won its first Sun Belt Conference indoor title since 2007 in 2015.
And, since his arrival, ASU has set 31 school records in both indoor and outdoor.
Matt Kraft, who has been in Jonesboro since 2003, will be Johnson’s throwing events coach.
Kraft has produced nine NCAA All-Americans, 16 Sun Belt Conference champions and nine ASU school record holders.