With a lot already accomplished, Johnson has more in sight

Through: D. Scott Fritchen

She is one of the four fastest women to run the 1,000 meters in Kansas State history. She is one of the three fastest women in K-State to run the 800 meters. She’s set competitive records and looks set for a second Big 12 indoor track and field title. She’s a perfectionist. She is originally from Wichita. She never thought she would go this far. And now, Cassidy Johnson is close to school records and fighting for an NCAA qualifying mark.

“The body achieves what the mind believes,” she says.

The mind. This is the challenge. In fact, it has always been an obstacle.

Johnson won three 2016 KSHSAA 5A State Championships in the 400 meters, 800 meters and 1,600 meters at Maize South High School. She won another state championship her senior year. But, yeah, even hitting those milestones, even after K-State athletics assistant coach Ryun Godfrey came calling, and after Johnson, a longtime K-State fan, fulfilled a dream, she teetered on the edge of perfectionism laced with self-doubt before her college career.

“After my second year of high school, when I didn’t measure up to what I knew I could do, I dedicated my whole life to sports, which I attribute to my success, of course, but I also think I’m nice to get lost in it too, so it came with a caveat, of course, but it was really great that it paid off,” she says. “People see it’s this perfect thing, but there was a caveat there.”

She suffered from a lack of confidence.

“I had this expectation when I went to college,” she says, “that I would never win a race again.”

But she is there, and she has accomplished so much.

In the 2019-20 season, she ran the fastest mile (4:48.00) and 1,000 meters (2:44.89) in the Big 12 conference and captured gold at the championships. Big 12 indoor athletics on March 1, 2020.

Last season, she won the 1,000 meters (2:51.41) at the K-State Winter Invitational, she won the 800 meters (2:13.44) at the Wildcat Invitational, then she won the mile run (4:57.63) and the 800 meters (2:14.38) at the KU-KSU-WSU Triangular. When she won the 600 yards in a personal best (1:26.06) at the Jayhawk Classic and then won the 1,000 yards (2:50.81) at the DeLoss Dodds Invitational, it gave her five first-place finishes in five met. She finished second (2:46.77) in the 1,000 meters at the Big 12 Indoor Championships.

She has also won five first places in five competitions this season.

She has been very busy.


“A bit over the years, with training and racing, you start proving to yourself that you can do it, as weird as it sounds – you should just know – but sometimes you need that kind of proof, and then just trying to trust my training and my coach and knowing that I’ve done everything I can to get to where I am when I cross that line is important,” says- her. “I just have to trust in that and know that whatever happens, happens, but I did everything I could.”

This season, Johnson set the KU-KSU-WSU triangle record in the 1,000 meters (2:47.17) on January 14, she set the DeLoss Dodds Invitational record (4:47.92) on January 22 and she won the 800 meters. (2:05.57) at the Husker Invitational on Feb. 5. His time of 2:05.57 in the 800 meters at the Iowa State Classic last Thursday was 0.41 seconds off the school record.

“Most of us go through this, but personally I get really nervous before races and even after all this time I’m still as nervous as I was in my first races,” she said. “Finally, once that shot goes off, it all comes loose, and it’s just adrenaline trying to swerve and try to get around the competitors. Then towards the end of the race , when you see the finish line, it’s you against someone else, and that’s a feeling like no other.

“As soon as the race is over, when the race is going well, that feeling is completely unmatched and it’s something that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to replicate after finishing athletics. It’s just that feeling. of accomplishment and the way you push your mind and body like no other is – I don’t even know how to describe it, and I don’t think it can be replicated any other way.”

Kassidy Johnson 22 SE

Through it all, it shaped her as a person.

“It made me who I am today in all good and bad ways,” she says. “It’s probably the most influential factor in my life. It taught me a lot about mental strength, physical strength.

“It also taught me a lot about myself because I can be a perfectionist type A person, and with the nature of the sport that’s what is needed, but it can also be very harmful, and you can going too far. It’s a very objective sport. It’s very easy to compare yourself to other athletes and know exactly where you stand, because unlike other sports, there’s only you against the clock, and the clock doesn’t lie, and there’s no one to judge your skills. can sometimes be a mode that people push too far. It taught me to find a balance in that.

She also discovered balance in other aspects of her life.

Johnson is graduating this spring with a double major in dietetics and Spanish. In fact, between classes and practice, she currently works as a nutrition coach for a therapy clinic in Wichita, which she calls “incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.” Her interest in dietetics began shortly after she suffered a stress fracture of her tibia while playing basketball her sophomore season in high school. She sought to enhance her recovery through nutrition – something that turned somewhat harmful when she did her own research online and started an overly restrictive diet.

“One of the reasons I want to become a dietitian is to help people filter out misinformation and to be a professional guide for others – to be the person I needed in high school,” says- she. “Over time I’ve learned so much more, I’ve learned all the things that go into her experience with food, whether it’s your relationship with good, your socio-economic status, the trauma you have, your access to food, education, implied health care – all of these factors go into a person’s experience with food.

“It’s not as simple as, ‘Eat this, don’t eat that.’ It became this desire to take the burden of nutrition off of people and help people use nutrition to improve their lives. It really evolved as I evolved, and I’m really happy to start a career in this field.

Before Johnson launches her promising career, she has a few goals she hopes to accomplish.

She’s gearing up for her last meeting of the regular season — the Steve Miller Invitational Friday in Manhattan — on the cusp of something truly awesome. Yes, she improved her self-confidence during her five years at K-State and gradually grasped the magnitude of her accomplishments, but there is that next step, which may seem somewhat elusive, but is within reach. tomorrow.

She ran a time of 2:05:57 in the 800 meters to win the Husker Invitational on February 5.

Now she has to run under a 2:04.25 to win the 16and and the final national qualifying score.

“There’s definitely some pressure, and the school record and national championships is something I’ve always wanted to achieve, but I also know now that’s not all, and I think it’s something. which took me five years to achieve,” she says. “I can commit to sports and not lose myself in sports. Even if I fail, I will try again this weekend and I will do my best. It’s exciting.”

After a long journey, the mind seems calm.

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