Alex Johnson Hungers for a Third Nationals Berth

A senior at Pitzer College majoring in English and World Literature, Alex Johnson PZ ’13 has been one of the most vital and consistent performers for the Pomona-Pitzer men’s cross-country team over the last four years. Hailing from Seattle, Johnson arrived at Pitzer in the fall of 2009 and immediately had an impact on the team, finishing third for the ‘Hen harriers at the SCIAC Cross Country Championships. Since then, he has continued to improve, placing second on the team at the SCIAC meet his sophomore year and running as the top man as a junior in 2011 and a senior in 2012, while garnering multiple All-Conference accolades. Arguably even more impressive, Johnson is one of the few storied Sagehens who can call himself a repeat individual NCAA Championships qualifier, having qualified in 2010 and 2011 and looking to do so a third time this November.

TSL: You are one of the most prominent performers for men’s PPXC and have been for the last four years. How did you get into running in the first place?

Alex Johnson: I started running competitively when I was about five, doing fun runs and such. My whole family runs, or has at one point, so it was natural. I got the itch sixteen years ago, and it hasn’t gone away.

TSL: Sixteen years is a long time to be running! And yet, you have been remarkably consistent in your performances. How have you managed to stay on or near the top for so long?

AJ: I’m pretty lucky in that I’ve run for so long because it means I really know my body; I understand what works well for me and what doesn’t with my training, and especially racing. That, and I think I’m just highly motivated to compete well. After all, if you aren’t going to put the most possible effort physically and mentally into the competitions, I see very little point in competing at all. I mean, people talk about making the paper and stuff as “being written into history.” I just think that I’d rather do the history-writing with my spikes on a Saturday morning.

TSL: Sounds like you have really got that hungry attitude that we have always said is necessary for athletic success. What do you think, though—does the team this season have that same hunger, that same drive to succeed?

AJ: Oh, [for sure]. We never roll less than thirty deep, we’re in great shape, and we’ve got a bunch of young guys and returners alike who’re ready to pound and actively want to improve week to week. Depth determines the success of most cross country teams and we’ve got that, too. We’re not only poised to do great things this season, but the future of PPXC, if handled correctly, is going to be something to take pride in for years. These next few weeks could easily mark the rise of a new era in the SCIAC.

TSL: Awesome. Well, we wish you the best of luck as you (and PPXC) wrap up your senior season. You race next at the SCIAC Multi-Duals this Friday, right?

AJ: Thanks; yeah, we do. It’ll be over at La Mirada Park in Chino. Hopefully, it’ll also be the dawn of the Age of PPXC.

TSL: Well, we’re all behind you in this. Thanks for the interview … knock ‘em dead on Friday!

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