Ryan Johnson: Legend To Air Force


Ryan Johnson's Best Marks

1,600 - 4:32

3,200 - 9:21

5k - 15:30


Q) Talk about the recruitment process - what other schools were you looking at, and how did you come to choosing the Air Force Academy?

My recruiting process wasn't very long or crazy. I started communicating with the coaches at the Air Force Academy at the beginning of the 2018 cross country season. Because of my junior times, I wasn't really at the standards needed to run at the Academy, but I worked really hard in cross country and into this track season to meet those standards. I knew that wherever I went to college, I wanted to stay in Colorado so I applied to Colorado State University and the University of Colorado, but didn't have contact with the coaches there. I have always wanted to go to the Air Force Academy and it provides many more opportunities, so it was not a hard decision for me to choose it over the other schools.

Q) What do you plan to study at Air Force?
I am currently undecided and would like to explore some majors before deciding, but I am interested in the management, operations research, and computer science majors offered at the Air Force Academy.

Q) What got you into track and field in the first place?
My older brother began running cross country in track in middle school and joined the Parker Panthers. I had no clue what these two sports were, but I wanted to be like him so I joined the Parker Panthers in 5th grade and have been running ever since.

Q) You've had success in everything from the 1,600 on on up to the 5k, what would you say your favorite event is, and why?
Each event has its own positives, but I'd have to say my favorite is the 5k. I have always been a bigger fan of cross country than track because each course is different, containing its own challenges and I am able to strategize a lot more over the duration of the race. I like being able to think while I'm racing and sometimes at shorter distances I don't feel like there is enough time to think. I also love how important mental strength is in a 5k and enjoy pushing mentally as well as physically to grind out that last mile and still have enough willpower to kick hard. At the end of a race, I want to be so tired that I feel exhausted for the rest of the day, and that's something that I've really only felt after a hard 5k.

Q) You went from 172nd at State your freshmen year, to 8th your senior year, what would you say attributed to this massive improvement over your four years?
I'd credit my improvement to my teammates over the years. Coming in freshman year, my big goal was to make varsity, which I barely did. I never thought I'd be anywhere close to top 10 in the state, but I set my next goals to just stay on varsity and keep up with the other guys on my team. My brother, Scott Johnson, and my other teammates like Landon Rast and Austin Podhajski were really good role models for me and inspired me to work hard every day to be able to stick with them on runs. Having amazing teammates like these guys made it really easy to get up every day and run because they became my best friends and it was always a good time on our runs. Also, having 4 other teammates in the same class as me really helped me because I was always competing with them and there was never a time where we weren't pushing each other. Without my teammates, I couldn't have gotten to where I can right now.

Q) What event do you see yourself focusing on at Air Force?
Like I mentioned earlier, I love cross country, so I am excited to run 8k's and eventually 10k's. In track, I would like to compete in the 5k or 10k, but I can see myself running the 3k occasionally as well.

Q) Could you share any goals you have for the upcoming track season?
Before every season, I set big goals for myself and strive to achieve them, so this season, like the others, I have set some major goals. I hope to qualify for state, something I have yet to do in track, for the 3200, 1600, and 4x800. I am focusing on the 3200 and the 4x800 for this season, but I hope to run fast enough in the 1600 to qualify as well. For the 3200, I am wanting to run around 9:25 in-state and break our previous school record of 9:30. I am hoping to run sub 4:30 in the 1600, and in the 4x800 I hope to run around 2:00 for my split.

Q) What would your favorite high school moment be (so far)?
Going to travel meets or having team dinners will always be my favorite memories, but I couldn't choose just one. There was, however, a run this year that we dedicated to sharing our favorite memories. This "meme run" as we called it was 8 miles of pure memories and will be something I will never forget. It was, quite literally, a run down memory lane.