On a Friday night at Smith College in Northampton, Chris Johns was preparing to clear a height of 6 foot 7 inches in the high jump. After a couple of minutes of mental preparation and focus, he approached the bar, pushed with all his might off the ground, and propelled himself over the bar. The entire stadium erupted in cheers and many of his teammates rushed to congratulate him on setting a new school record, and for qualifying for nationals. As a senior at LHS, Chris will be competing at nationals for high jump on March 15th at the New York Armory. Starting freshman year, he owes much of his success to the people who helped him get into high jump at the beginning of his career. Jacob Kelly, a senior at the time, taught and inspired Chris.
Throughout the past year at LHS, Coach Webber has been there helping Chris improve. “Although I have only worked with Chris for one year, two seasons, he has shown a lot of growth and maturity in that timespan,” says Coach Webber. “Not only by his personal meet results but stepping up as a captain, pushing others to do their best, leading by example, trying new events (relays and long jump), etc.” Quinn McGrath, a track captain and senior, agrees with Coach Webber and says that “Chris is the type of captain who will lead by example and by his love for the sport. He’s put in the work over the last few years and talent is far from the only reason he’s become one of the best LHS athletes in recent memory.” Chris holds the record for high jump in indoor track at LHS, recently breaking his 6’6” record by clearing 6’7” at the meet on February 7th. He is working towards doing it again for the outdoor record, which is held by Jacob Kelly at 6’7”.
“I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if he breaks the outdoor record by the end of his high school career the way he has been jumping and progressing,” says Coach Webber. “The ability, consistency, and work ethic are all there and getting stronger for Chris. I know he’s also looking forward to qualifying for the National Championships, or as he calls it “booking another vacation”, during the Spring Outdoor season.”
Chris expresses that high jump has given him opportunities that have changed his life, and states, “It’s not a very well-known thing, but it’s opened a lot of doors for me that I didn’t expect so it’s worked out pretty well for me.” This will be his third time at nationals as he previously went for Indoor track and Outdoor track last year.
Chris attributes much of his success not only to his physical ability, but says, , “A large percentage of where you find your success is in the mental game.” Mr. Pantuosco, the head coach of indoor track, says that Chris “has been a pleasure to coach.” He sees Chris’ clear passion for track, saying, “If you’ve ever watched Chris participate in a sport, you see that he has more fun than anybody else–on the track, on the field, wherever it is… he loves what he is doing. You put that with natural talent, and hard work, and the way that he listens to his coaches, and that makes him an instant success.”
Fellow track captain and senior, Maurice Powe, says that “Chris is an incredible athlete with a big heart and lots of energy. There’s nothing better than watching the entire half of a meet seeing him jump and succeed.” Chris is continuing his track career next year at Providence College, and everyone is excited to see what he will accomplish next.