Over the years Lauren (Davenport) Johnson has undoubtedly left her athletic mark on Huntington County and hopes to leave a similar mark on the west coast in 2010.
It didn’t take long for Lauren to develop her own fan base as a three-sport Huntington North High School athlete. She was the four-year starting point guard for the Lady Vikings basketball team from 2001-2005 and would have gone down in the record books for being the first Lady Vike to start every game of her career had she not missed three games her senior year due to a sprained ankle. In her final season she led her team to the regional championship game and was named to the North Central All-Conference team.
As a member of the track team, Lauren ran in Regionals each year and was a two- time North Central All-Conference pick. She also ran cross country her junior and senior years. The highlight of her high school cross country career was running at semi-state her senior year. Not surprisingly, she received All-Conference honors both years. Interestingly, Lauren’s junior year, Huntington North was transitioning from the Olympic Athletic Conference to the North Central Conference and as such, she received All-Conference cross country honors in both conferences.
Upon graduation from Huntington North in 2005, Lauren remained a hometown favorite by continuing her athletic career at Huntington University. She ran the show as the Foresters’ starting point guard for three years. Her ability to handle the ball, shut down an opponent’s leading scorer and generate a shot with the clock winding was unmatched. By her senior year, there was no doubt she was the glue that held the Foresters together. She led the Foresters to a Sweet Sixteen finish at the NAIA National Tournament and for her efforts was recognized as a Third Team All-American and runner-up for the MCC Conference Player of the Year.
Lauren was also an invaluable member of the HU track team. As a sophomore, she was a member of the 4x400 and 4x800 meter relay team that competed at the NAIA National Outdoor Track meet. Her junior season she was the MCC champion in the 400 meters and finished in the top 15 in the 400 meter hurdles at Nationals. As with basketball, she saved her best for last. During her final year, Lauren repeated as the MCC Champion in the 400 meters. She also brought home the MCC Championship in the 400 meter hurdles and established a new MCC and HU record in this event with a time of 1:03.03. Her fourth place finish (2:07.36) at the NAIA National Outdoor Track meet in the 800 meters earned her All-American honors and made her HU’s 800 meter record-holder.
Lauren graduated from HU last May with a degree in Exercise Science but her story doesn’t end here. She plans to attend veterinary school in the future so in order to better prepare herself for this field, she declared a Chemistry major and re-enrolled at HU this past fall. With this decision, she had the opportunity to run cross country. Not surprisingly, she was quickly recognized as one of the top runners in the MCC, having finished second at the MCC conference meet which qualified her for the NAIA National Cross Country meet. Lauren finished 16th at Nationals which earned her yet another NAIA All-American honor.
Most impressive about Lauren’s last three semesters of competition is the fact that she earned All-American honors in three different sports, a feat no other Forester athlete can claim. Many have wondered about the secret to Lauren’s success this past year. Simply put, it was her hard work and determination. At the beginning of basketball season she realized she would be handling the lion’s share of minutes at the point position so in order to build her endurance, she began running 2-3 miles before or after practice and 5-6 miles on Sundays. It was obvious this extra conditioning paid off throughout the season and then carried over into track and cross country as well.
Despite the long list of accolades Lauren has earned throughout her collegiate career, she’s not quite ready to hang up her running shoes. This past summer Lauren served as a counselor at the Yoder-Begley Cross Country Camp, a camp founded by Amy Yoder-Begley, an East Noble High School graduate who competed in the 2008 Olympics and continues to train as a Nike-sponsored athlete. It was through this camp that Lauren connected with Amy’s husband, Andrew Begley. Andrew encouraged Lauren to consider extending her running career and that’s just what she has decided to do.
Earlier this week Lauren and husband, Nick Johnson, packed their bags and headed to Oregon so she can train under Andrew. She will be running for a club team for the next six months, competing in indoor and outdoor track meets every other weekend throughout Washington, Oregon and California in hopes of qualifying for the USA Track and Field (USATF) National Championships. While her main event will be the 800 meters, she will also potentially run the 1500 meters (outdoor) and mile (indoor).
“My ultimate goal is be picked up and sponsored so I can train full-time indefinitely. In order to achieve this, I need to first qualify for the USAFT national championships,” said Lauren. “I also need to run good times and beat some good people. If I can do that, we’ll see what happens. I’m excited for this challenge and am anxious to see what the next six months holds for me.”
Some things never change. Lauren will no doubt make every effort to accomplish this goal. And her Huntington County fans will be there to cheer her along the way!