Former standout UAA volleyball player takes over track team

Senior Chrisalyn Johnson spent the last four years competing for UAA on the women’s volleyball team. Prior to that, she excelled at not only volleyball, but track as well in high school. Although she ultimately chose to focus on volleyball in college, once her eligibility ran out she decided it was a perfect time to get back on the track.

Chrisalyn Johnson jumps over hurdles on the track. Photo by Howard Lao.

At Dimond High School, she made the varsity volleyball team three times, earning All-Cook-Inlet Conference and 4A All-State Tournament Team honors during both her junior and senior years.

In track, she earned Girl’s Athlete of the Meet at the 2015 Regionals Championships for winning the 100-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump. The same season, Johnson was runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles and winner of the long jump at the state meet.

When the time came to become a Seawolf, Johnson ultimately made the decision to put track behind her.

“When senior year rolled around, I chose volleyball at UAA because the team at the time were great players that I admired and always wanted to play alongside,” Johnson said.

That decision led her to a lot of success. During her sophomore year, Johnson earned both GNAC Offensive Player of the Week and GNAC All-Academic Team awards. She was also the second-leading kills producer.

Junior year, she became the All-GNAC honorable mention. She again earned GNAC Offensive Player of the Week as well as AVCA Div. II National Player of the Week awards. For the second year in a row, she was placed on the GNAC All-Academic Team. She earned all the same awards again during her senior year.

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Once volleyball season ended in early November, Johnson had just over two months to start preparing for the first indoor track and field meet.

“Luckily, I was able to start running with the team after volleyball season ended, so I could catch up and participate in the first indoor meet. The coaches and team were so welcoming,” Johnson said.

Johnson also explained that she was often around many other members of the track team before she joined, but it was a great experience training at The Dome with them and seeing them in their element.

She trained with the team five to six days a week, running and weightlifting. However, the training was not very similar to what she was used to.

“When I started track, I knew the training was going to be different. It definitely targets parts of the body that volleyball did not,” Johnson said.

Despite that, volleyball has given her certain advantages that she was able to utilize in track, including jumping, upper and lower body strength and coach adaptability.

Putting everything together, Johnson competed with her collegiate track team for the first time on Jan. 18 in the Ed Jacoby Invite. She leapt into her jumping career with a fourth place finish in the long jump (17’ 11.75”).

Being her only regular season meet, she moved into the GNAC Indoor Championships with very little competition experience under her belt. Despite that, she furnished a third place finish in the long jump (18’ 7.75”) and a runner-up finish in the triple-jump (39’3”).

As for the outdoor season, Johnson has already improved in every event, including taking up the sprints.

She made her personal best in the 200-meter dash (26.45) during the Willamette Invitation on March 23.

The following week, at the Mike Fanelli Track Classic, she secured personal bests in the triple jump (40’ 1.5”) placing first, and the 100-meter dash (12.81). She also set a school record in the long jump with a leap of 19’ 2.5”.

On April 19, at the Bryan Clay Invitational in California, Johnson extended her long jump personal best to 19’ 5.25”, placing 12th in a field of 76 athletes.

Her long jump also broke her previously-set school record. Johnson’s jump  ranks as No. 6 All-Time and puts her at No. 14 in Div. II this season.

Due to her recent success, Johnson was awarded GNAC Athlete of the Week honors. But she isn’t done yet.

I want to help the team to a GNAC championship and get the opportunity to compete at the Track and Field Div. II National Championships,” Johnson said.

Johnson and the team will be back in action May 10 at the GNAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships.