ODAC runner of the year Johnson taking success in stride

Graphic with cutout image of Kaitlyn Johnson in uniform on white background. Text: Kaitlyn Johnson ODAC runner of the year

Winneconne, Wis. -- It may seem meteoric, but make no mistake.

Kaitlyn Johnson's rise to the ranks of the elite NCAA Division III women's cross country athletes has been anything but a fluke.

"It hasn't been something that's happened overnight," University of Lynchburg head cross country coach Jake Reed said. "We saw it all track season."

Sure, Johnson is the reigning Old Dominion Athletic Conference champion in the 10,000-meter run.

But it's still hard to ignore what a difference a year's made for the sophomore from Spotsylvania, Va., who was named the ODAC's women's runner of the year Thursday.

Johnson finished 76th a season ago at the South/Southeast regional meet; last weekend, she finished third and earned a trip to nationals, the first Hornet woman to qualify for the ultimate meet since 2010.

She and the 279 other competitors will line up on the 6k course starting line at 11:15 a.m. Central time (12:15 p.m. Eastern) at Winneconne's Lake Breeze Golf Club.

Two Lynchburg men -- senior Tristan Lucy-Speidel (Fort Valley, Va.) and freshman Max Sparks (Canton, Conn.) -- will race in the 8k championship, which will follow the women's race. Sparks was also honored by the ODAC Thursday as the league's male co-rookie of the year.

RELATED: 2018 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships website

"It's all training," Johnson said of the vast improvement. "I think anybody who runs here and runs for Coach Jake will tell you that."

In high school, she continued, she didn't have the same structure to her training. Her everyday 30-minute runs ramped up to 65 minutes or more upon her arrival to Lakeside Drive. That training and the confidence that came with it flipped a switch in Johnson she never knew was there.

"It's not like I go onto the line like, 'I'm the best runner here. I'm going to crush this,'" she said. "A lot of it is consistency in attitude.

"This time last year, and in high school, I never would have imagined where I am now," Johnson continued. "Obviously the coaches here have unlocked a level of talent I never knew I had. There's just so much that they've done for me to get me here. It's just hard to conceptualize."

She's been Lynchburg's top runner at all six meets this season, battling through muddy conditions nearly every race. October 13, she became the first Lynchburg woman to break 22 minutes in the 6k, clocking in at 21:54.9.

She ran a 22:29.8 two weeks later to place third in the ODAC meet, helping the Hornets women to a runner-up finish.

The following weekend, she again battled the muddy conditions at regionals in Mount Berry, Ga., cranking out a 22:37.08 to cement the individual national berth and all-region honors.

"It was one of those things where I had to fight for it, run hard, and just trust what I've done throughout the season," she said.

RELATED: 2018 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships live results

For Johnson's part, she said trust in her training and a level-headed outlook have made all the difference.

"I've always been disciplined in school and academics growing up," the straight-A student said. "But finding that discipline in running [has made the difference]."

And with the confidence that each race adds, Reed said there's a lot to be excited about with his star pupil's potential.

"She hasn't even touched her ceiling," the coach said. "She has no idea how good she is, and I don't think we've seen how good she can be."

And while just reaching the national meet checked one goal off the list, it's time, Johnson said, to set loftier aspirations.

"Obviously I want to be an All-American really bad," she said.

Lynchburg has never had an All-American finisher (top 40 at the national meet) in women's cross country.

Reed said Johnson could be the first.

"She has an outside shot of doing something special at nationals, but that's not the expectation," Reed said.

RELATED: 2018 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships webcast (fee involved)

Visit Lynchburg athletics' home online, LynchburgSports.com, anytime for up-to-the-minute news on all Hornets sports and coverage from the Lynchburg Hornets Sports Network. Click here to sign up for email and text alerts from Lynchburg athletics.

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2018 Old Dominion Athletic Conference Cross Country Superlatives

Men's Runner of the Year | Jamie Hiegel, BC

Women's Runner of the Year | Kaitlyn Johnson, LYN

Men's Coach of the Year | Brandon Spalding, W&L

Women's Coach of the Year | Michael Dager, W&L

Men's Co-Rookie of the Year | Max Sparks, LYN

Men's Co-Rookie of the Year | Skyler Lattuca, VWU

Women's Rookie of the Year | Sarah Hollen, W&L

--LYN--

No Event
Sat Dec 01
Bast-Cregger Invitational
@ Roanoke College, Salem, Va.
Sat Dec 01
Final
48 Randolph
82 vs. No. 22 Chris. Newport
@ Lynchburg, Va. (Turner Gymnasium) Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 1
Sat Dec 01
Final
64 Mary Washington
69 Lynchburg
Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 2
Sun Dec 02
Final
66 Randolph
75 vs. Mary Washington
@ Lynchburg, Va. Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 3
Sun Dec 02
Final
74 Lynchburg
62 at Shenandoah
Sun Dec 02
Final
64 No. 22 Chris. Newport
77 at Lynchburg
Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 4 | CODE RED Game
Wed Dec 05
Final
54 Randolph
80 Lynchburg
Wed Dec 05
Final
78 No. 22 Lynchburg
82 at Guilford
Sat Dec 08
Final
73 Va. Wesleyan
55 Lynchburg
Sat Dec 08
Final
78 No. 22 Lynchburg
76 at Methodist
Sun Dec 16
Final
59 McDaniel
83 Lynchburg
Sat Dec 29
Final
74 No. 16 Chris. Newport
65 at Lynchburg
Lynchburg Holiday Classic -- Game 1
Sat Dec 29
Final
75 Lynchburg
66 vs. Muskingum
@ Guilford College, Greensboro, N.C. Guilford Classic
Sat Dec 29
Final
54 Meredith
70 vs. Emory & Henry
@ Lynchburg, Va. Lynchburg Holiday Classic -- Game 2
Sun Dec 30
Final
76 Emory & Henry
56 at No. 16 Chris. Newport
Lynchburg Holiday Classic -- Game 3
Sun Dec 30
Final
74 Greensboro
82 vs. Lynchburg
@ Greensboro, N.C. (Ragan-Brown) Guilford Classic
Sun Dec 30
Final
50 Meredith
69 at Lynchburg
Lynchburg Holiday Classic -- Game 4
Tue Jan 01
Final
73 Averett
87 Lynchburg
Sat Jan 05
Final
42 Lynchburg
53 at East. Mennonite
Sat Jan 05
Final
89 Lynchburg
75 at Shenandoah
Mon Jan 07
Final
69 Washington and Lee
75 Lynchburg
Wed Jan 09
Final
50 Hollins
66 Lynchburg
Wed Jan 09
Final
87 No. 22 Lynchburg
73 at Emory & Henry
Sat Jan 12
Final
59 Lynchburg
63 at No. 21 Emory & Henry
Sat Jan 12
Final
66 Va. Wesleyan
68 No. 22 Lynchburg
Wed Jan 16
Final
76 Guilford
85 Lynchburg
Thu Jan 17
Final
82 No. 17 Lynchburg
79 at Washington and Lee
Fri Jan 18
VMI Keydet Invitational
@ Lexington, Va.
Sat Jan 19
VMI Keydet Invitational
@ Lexington, Va.
Sat Jan 19
Final
77 Lynchburg
68 at Bridgewater (Va.)
Sat Jan 19
Final - OT
78 No. 17 Lynchburg
66 at East. Mennonite
Wed Jan 23
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Randolph
Wed Jan 23
7:00 PM
Guilford
Lynchburg
Coaches vs. Cancer Week
Fri Jan 25
Liberty University Kickoff
@ Lynchburg, Va.
Sat Jan 26
Liberty University Kickoff
@ Lynchburg, Va.
Sat Jan 26
2:00 PM
Roanoke
Lynchburg
Alumni Day
Sat Jan 26
4:30 PM
Randolph-Macon
Lynchburg
Alumni Day/Coaches vs. Cancer Week
Wed Jan 30
7:00 PM
Emory & Henry
Lynchburg
Wed Jan 30
7:30 PM
Lynchburg
at Roanoke
Sat Feb 02
Vince Brown Invitational
@ Christopher Newport University, Newport News, Va.
Sat Feb 02
2:00 PM
Bridgewater (Va.)
Lynchburg
Wed Feb 06
5:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Ferrum
Wed Feb 06
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Ferrum
Fri Feb 08
VMI Winter Relays
@ Lexington, Va.
Fri Feb 08
1 p.m.
Texas Christian
Lynchburg
Sat Feb 09
VMI Winter Relays
@ Lexington, Va.
Sat Feb 09
12:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Methodist
Sat Feb 09
1:00 PM
Salisbury
Lynchburg
Sat Feb 09
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Methodist
Sat Feb 09
3:00 PM
East. Mennonite
Lynchburg
Play4Kay Game
Sat Feb 09
5:30 PM
Shenandoah
Lynchburg
Senior Day
Sun Feb 10
Randolph IHSA
Wed Feb 13
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Roanoke
Wed Feb 13
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Hampden-Sydney
Fri Feb 15
Virginia Tech Challenge
@ Blacksburg, Va.
Sat Feb 16
Virginia Tech Challenge
@ Blacksburg, Va.
Sat Feb 16
Bridgewater IHSA
Sat Feb 16
12:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Franklin & Marshall
Sat Feb 16
1:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Maryville (Tenn.)
Sat Feb 16
2:00 PM
Shenandoah
Lynchburg
Senior Day | CODE RED Game
Sat Feb 16
4:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Maryville (Tenn.)
Sun Feb 17
12:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Maryville (Tenn.)
Wed Feb 20
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Averett
Fri Feb 22
2:00 PM
Ferrum
Lynchburg
Sat Feb 23
Hollins IHSA
Sat Feb 23
9:30 AM
Olivet
vs. Lynchburg
@ Cary, N.C. Grand Slam Triangle Classic
Sat Feb 23
11:00 AM
Lynchburg
vs. Penn St.-Behrend
@ Fayetteville, N.C. Armstrong/Diamond Invitational
Sat Feb 23
12:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Mary Washington
Sat Feb 23
1:00 PM
Cabrini
Lynchburg
Sat Feb 23
1:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Ferrum
Sat Feb 23
5:00 PM
Rowan
vs. Lynchburg
@ Cary, N.C. Grand Slam Triangle Classic
Sat Feb 23
5:00 PM
Lynchburg
vs. Rutgers-Camden
@ Fayetteville, N.C. Armstrong/Diamond Invitational
Sun Feb 24
ODAC Indoor Championships
@ Roanoke College, Salem, Va.
Sun Feb 24
10 a.m.
Lynchburg IHSA
Sun Feb 24
10:00 AM
Lynchburg
vs. Emory
@ Cary, N.C. William Peace Triangle Classic
Sun Feb 24
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
vs. Greensboro
@ Cary, N.C. Grand Slam Triangle Classic
Sun Feb 24
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Methodist
Armstrong/Diamond Invitational
Fri Mar 01
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Guilford
Sat Mar 02
Roanoke Last Chance Qualifier
@ Salem, Va.
Sat Mar 02
10:00 AM
St. Mary's (Md.)
Lynchburg
Sat Mar 02
10:00 AM
St. Mary's (Md.)
Lynchburg
Sat Mar 02
12:00 PM
Geneva
Lynchburg
Suicide Awareness Day
Sat Mar 02
12:00 PM
Penn St.-Harrisburg
Lynchburg
Sat Mar 02
1:00 PM
Lynchburg
at York (Pa.)
Sat Mar 02
1:00 PM
Frostburg St.
Lynchburg
Sat Mar 02
2:00 PM
Guilford
Lynchburg
Sat Mar 02
2:00 PM
Geneva
Lynchburg
Sat Mar 02
3:00 PM
Penn St.-Harrisburg
Lynchburg
Sun Mar 03
12:00 PM
York (Pa.)
Lynchburg
Sun Mar 03
12:00 PM
York (Pa.)
Lynchburg
Sun Mar 03
1:00 PM
Penn St.-Harrisburg
Lynchburg
Mon Mar 04
Hill City Invitational, Boonsboro CC, Lynchburg, Va. -- Day 1
Tue Mar 05
Hill City Invitational, Boonsboro CC, Lynchburg, Va. -- Day 2
Tue Mar 05
2:00 PM
Salem
Lynchburg
Tue Mar 05
2:00 PM
William Peace
Lynchburg
Tue Mar 05
3:00 PM
William Peace
Lynchburg
Tue Mar 05
4:00 PM
Salem
Lynchburg
Wed Mar 06
3:00 PM
Lynchburg
at William Peace
Wed Mar 06
4:00 PM
Gwynedd Mercy
Lynchburg
Fri Mar 08
NCAA Division III Indoor Championships
@ Boston, Mass.
Fri Mar 08
UNCW Seahawk Invitational
@ Wilmington, N.C.
Fri Mar 08
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Salem
Sat Mar 09
NCAA Division III Indoor Championships
@ Boston, Mass.
Sat Mar 09
UNCW Seahawk Invitational
@ Wilmington, N.C.
Sat Mar 09
TBA
Lynchburg
vs. TBA
@ Hilton Head Invitational, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Sat Mar 09
TBA
Lynchburg
vs. TBA
@ Hilton Head Invitational, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Sat Mar 09
12:00 PM
Lynchburg
vs. TCNJ
@ Salisbury, Md. Salisbury Invitational
Sat Mar 09
12:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Washington and Lee
Sat Mar 09
1:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Bridgewater (Va.)
Sat Mar 09
1:00 PM
Columbia (S.C.)
Lynchburg
Sat Mar 09
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
vs. TCNJ
@ Salisbury, Md. Salisbury Invitational
Sat Mar 09
3:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Washington and Lee
Sun Mar 10
TBA
Lynchburg
vs. TBA
@ Hilton Head Invitational, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Sun Mar 10
TBA
Lynchburg
vs. Gordon
@ Hilton Head Invitational, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Sun Mar 10
12:00 PM
Cortland
vs. Lynchburg
@ Salisbury, Md. Salisbury Invitational
Sun Mar 10
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
vs. Elizabethtown
@ U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Sparks, Md.
Sun Mar 10
2:00 PM
Cortland
vs. Lynchburg
@ Salisbury, Md. Salisbury Invitational
Mon Mar 11
TBA
Lynchburg
vs. TBA
@ Hilton Head Invitational, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Mon Mar 11
TBA
Lynchburg
vs. TBA
@ Hilton Head Invitational, Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Mon Mar 11
12:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Salisbury
Mon Mar 11
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Salisbury
No Event
No Event
No Event
View Full Schedule
Sat Feb 16
1:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Maryville (Tenn.)
Sat Feb 16
4:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Maryville (Tenn.)
Sun Feb 17
12:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Maryville (Tenn.)
Wed Feb 20
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Averett
Sat Feb 23
11:00 AM
Lynchburg
vs. Penn St.-Behrend
@ Fayetteville, N.C. Armstrong/Diamond Invitational
Sat Feb 23
5:00 PM
Lynchburg
vs. Rutgers-Camden
@ Fayetteville, N.C. Armstrong/Diamond Invitational
Sun Feb 24
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Methodist
Armstrong/Diamond Invitational
Sat Mar 02
12:00 PM
Penn St.-Harrisburg
Lynchburg
Sat Mar 02
3:00 PM
Penn St.-Harrisburg
Lynchburg
Sun Mar 03
1:00 PM
Penn St.-Harrisburg
Lynchburg
Tue Mar 05
2:00 PM
William Peace
Lynchburg
Wed Mar 06
3:00 PM
Lynchburg
at William Peace
Sat Mar 09
12:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Washington and Lee
Sat Mar 09
3:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Washington and Lee
No Event
View Full Schedule
No Event
No Event
Sat Dec 01
Final
48 Randolph
82 vs. No. 22 Chris. Newport
@ Lynchburg, Va. (Turner Gymnasium) Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 1
Sat Dec 01
Final
64 Mary Washington
69 Lynchburg
Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 2
Sun Dec 02
Final
66 Randolph
75 vs. Mary Washington
@ Lynchburg, Va. Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 3
Sun Dec 02
Final
64 No. 22 Chris. Newport
77 at Lynchburg
Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 4 | CODE RED Game
Wed Dec 05
Final
78 No. 22 Lynchburg
82 at Guilford
Sat Dec 08
Final
78 No. 22 Lynchburg
76 at Methodist
Sun Dec 16
Final
59 McDaniel
83 Lynchburg
Sat Dec 29
Final
75 Lynchburg
66 vs. Muskingum
@ Guilford College, Greensboro, N.C. Guilford Classic
Sun Dec 30
Final
74 Greensboro
82 vs. Lynchburg
@ Greensboro, N.C. (Ragan-Brown) Guilford Classic
Tue Jan 01
Final
73 Averett
87 Lynchburg
Sat Jan 05
Final
89 Lynchburg
75 at Shenandoah
Wed Jan 09
Final
87 No. 22 Lynchburg
73 at Emory & Henry
Sat Jan 12
Final
66 Va. Wesleyan
68 No. 22 Lynchburg
Thu Jan 17
Final
82 No. 17 Lynchburg
79 at Washington and Lee
Sat Jan 19
Final - OT
78 No. 17 Lynchburg
66 at East. Mennonite
Wed Jan 23
7:00 PM
Guilford
Lynchburg
Coaches vs. Cancer Week
Sat Jan 26
4:30 PM
Randolph-Macon
Lynchburg
Alumni Day/Coaches vs. Cancer Week
Wed Jan 30
7:30 PM
Lynchburg
at Roanoke
Sat Feb 02
2:00 PM
Bridgewater (Va.)
Lynchburg
Wed Feb 06
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Ferrum
Sat Feb 09
5:30 PM
Shenandoah
Lynchburg
Senior Day
Wed Feb 13
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Hampden-Sydney
No Event
View Full Schedule
No Event
Sun Dec 02
Final
74 Lynchburg
62 at Shenandoah
Wed Dec 05
Final
54 Randolph
80 Lynchburg
Sat Dec 08
Final
73 Va. Wesleyan
55 Lynchburg
Sat Dec 29
Final
74 No. 16 Chris. Newport
65 Lynchburg
Lynchburg Holiday Classic -- Game 1
Sun Dec 30
Final
50 Meredith
69 Lynchburg
Lynchburg Holiday Classic -- Game 4
Sat Jan 05
Final
42 Lynchburg
53 at East. Mennonite
Mon Jan 07
Final
69 Washington and Lee
75 Lynchburg
Wed Jan 09
Final
50 Hollins
66 Lynchburg
Sat Jan 12
Final
59 Lynchburg
63 at No. 21 Emory & Henry
Wed Jan 16
Final
76 Guilford
85 Lynchburg
Sat Jan 19
Final
77 Lynchburg
68 at Bridgewater (Va.)
Wed Jan 23
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Randolph
Sat Jan 26
2:00 PM
Roanoke
Lynchburg
Alumni Day
Wed Jan 30
7:00 PM
Emory & Henry
Lynchburg
Wed Feb 06
5:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Ferrum
Sat Feb 09
3:00 PM
East. Mennonite
Lynchburg
Play4Kay Game
Wed Feb 13
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Roanoke
Sat Feb 16
2:00 PM
Shenandoah
Lynchburg
Senior Day | CODE RED Game
No Event
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