TRACK AND FIELD: NKB's Mony Johnson sets high goals, signs with Minnesota State to chase new records

The record-breaking senior thrower for Northome/Kelliher/Blackduck had a few schools in mind for her future. Yet when it came time to make a decision on where to continue her track and field career, MSU turned out to be the choice.

Esko experiences bittersweet day at the Minnesota Class A state track meet
Northome/Kelliher/Blackduck senior Mony Johnson throws the shot during the Class A state meet on Friday, June 10, 2022, in St. Michael. Johnson won the event with a Class A state meet record throw of 46 feet, 4.75 inches.
Clint Austin / Forum News Service
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KELLIHER – Mony Johnson didn’t expect to end up at Minnesota State.

The record-breaking senior thrower for Northome/Kelliher/Blackduck had a few schools in mind, but not the Mavericks of Mankato. Yet when it came time to make a decision on where to continue her track and field career, MSU turned out to be the choice.

“I have one friend that goes down there,” Johnson said. “I looked at their program, and I was looking to commit to them. Then when I finally met them at (the state meet), it was really nice. It was like I could picture myself going there. So that's how I made my final decision.”

Now, her future is secure, and she can enjoy the rest of her summer free of the stresses of college decision-making.

Northome/Kelliher/Blackduck senior Mony Johnson, center, signs her National Letter of Intent to attend Minnesota State for track and field on Monday, June 20, 2022, at Kelliher High School. Accompanying her, from left to right, are parents Bart Johnson and Bethany Johnson, brother Marcus Johnson and coach Kevin Waldo.

“It's such a big weight that's been lifted off my shoulders, knowing that I already know what I'm going to do,” Johnson said. “So I get like a whole month to myself for once. But the next few months, I'm still planning on training and working out and staying in shape and all that.”


She’ll look to maintain the form that broke the Class A state meet record in the shot put on June 10 in St. Michael. Johnson’s winning throw traveled 46 feet, 4.75 inches, breaking the previous record by 11 inches.

Now, as she prepares to embark on her collegiate career, she’s setting her goals even farther out.

“I want to get my shot put distance up to at least 52 (feet),” Johnson said.

Johnson also plans to compete in the discus, with hopes to add the hammer to her repertoire. But regardless of which events she ultimately competes in, she’s setting the bar high for what she wants to achieve in her signature event.

“My main event, which is shot (put), I have so many goals for myself,” Johnson said. “Throw far, go far in competition. I want to aim for nationals.”

If she continues on her current trajectory, she should be on a good path to do so. As she reflects on what helped get her to this point, she credits her upbringing with propelling her to what she has already accomplished.

“I feel like everything that I've been through, all of that brought me to this point,” Johnson said. “Because I know that one (thing) wouldn’t have happened without the other for sure. My high school experience with sports and all that was a lot of small-town stuff. In a small town, if you have a last name, you get to play.

“But when it came to track, it was (just) you and your own ability. And that's one reason I really stuck with track and shot, because it was like me against me instead of me having to out-compete another one of my teammates. In track, it's just you and your hard work that determines where you're put.”


And now, that hard work has earned her a spot at Minnesota State – and she can’t wait to get started.

“I'm really excited to go to college,” Johnson said. “I'm really excited to find myself more and find what works for me, the flow of things. I'm super excited for the whole college experience, and college sports (and everything that comes with it).”

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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