Johnson adds state track hall of fame spot to her growing resume of honors

Garrett Davenport (seated, third from left) represents his daughter, Lauren Johnson, at the 2018 Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (IATCCC) Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Feb. 2 at the Sheraton Hotel at Keystone Crossing, in Indianapolis. Johnson, a professional runner from Huntington, was unable to attend the ceremony as she was preparing for a race in New York, NY. Hall of fame inductees were (seated from left) Ricke Stucker, Shannon Kelley Dragoo and Davenport representing Johnson; and (standing from left) Marty Hill, Michael Fout, Allen Dunn representing Fred Seward, Rudy Skorupa, Bryce Brown and Thomas D. Haynes representing Thomas M. Haynes.
Garrett Davenport (seated, third from left) represents his daughter, Lauren Johnson, at the 2018 Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (IATCCC) Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Feb. 2 at the Sheraton Hotel at Keystone Crossing, in Indianapolis. Johnson, a professional runner from Huntington, was unable to attend the ceremony as she was preparing for a race in New York, NY. Hall of fame inductees were (seated from left) Ricke Stucker, Shannon Kelley Dragoo and Davenport representing Johnson; and (standing from left) Marty Hill, Michael Fout, Allen Dunn representing Fred Seward, Rudy Skorupa, Bryce Brown and Thomas D. Haynes representing Thomas M. Haynes. Photo provided.

Lauren Johnson was inducted to the Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (IAT-CCC) Hall of Fame on Feb. 2.

Johnson, however, was unable to attend the ceremony. The Huntington native, though, had a good excuse: she was in New York City, preparing for her latest race.

Johnson, a professional runner, competed in the Wanamaker Mile at the New York Road Runners Millrose Games the following day, Feb. 3.

That she couldn’t attend the ceremony due to a running commitment shines a light on what makes her a unique inductee for the hall of fame.

“It’s really, I guess, a cool thing because a lot of the, especially runners, that are in the hall of fame had great success in high school – multiple times a state champion or state records, things like that,” says Johnson. “My success in track didn’t really come until later.”

Johnson began her professional running career in 2010, after graduating from Huntington University and, before that, Huntington North High School. A distance runner, her signature race is the 1,500-meter run. In the last eight years, she has competed in track’s biggest events, including the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, USA Indoor Track and Field Championships, USA Olympic Trials, IAAF World Championships and more.

While she may be a late-bloomer in terms of track success, Johnson is delighted that that didn’t preclude her from inclusion in the hall.

The hall of fame induction ceremony was held in Indianapolis. In her place, Johnson sent her father, Garrett Davenport; brother, Austen Davenport; and friend, Curtis Hines, who coaches cross country at Huntington North.

Johnson was one of nine members of the hall’s 2018 class, which boasted male and female athletes, coaches and pioneers, who helped cultivate track and cross country in the state. Her fellow inductees included Bryce Brown, from Evansville Harrison High School; Shannon Kelley Dragoo, Northrop; Michael Fout, LaPorte; Thomas M. Haynes, Shortridge and Washington; Marty Hill, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School; Fred Seward, Bloomington; Rudy Skorupa, Lake Central; and Ricke Stucker, Kokomo.

While the inductees and Johnson’s representatives were at the ceremony, she was prepping for the Wanamaker Mile. Named after department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker, the race, an indoor mile, has been held since 1926. It is currently run at The Armory, which is considered to be one of the premier indoor track and field facilities in the country.

“It was my first time competing in that, so it was a new experience, but it was a lot of fun,” says Johnson. “The atmosphere at The Armory track in New York is better than any indoor track I’ve been to in the U.S.”

The next day, Johnson toed the starting line of the Wanamaker Mile with 11 others. She ended up capturing fourth place, with a clocking of 4:31.63.

“I’m happy with it – but, obviously, I always want to win,” she says.

While winning was Johnson’s primary goal, she also had a big-picture goal for the race.

“I was aiming to run the qualifying standard for the indoor world championships and the race ended up being slower than that, so I didn’t get that goal,” she states. “But I was happy with how I competed and my race tactics and everything like that.”

Qualifying for the IAAF World Indoor Championships, set for March 1 to 4, in Birmingham, England, will be Johnson’s main objective going forward.

“The U.S. Championships to qualify for that are actually in two weeks and there’s a qualifying time and then you have to place top two at the U.S. Championships,” she says of the event, which is set for Feb. 16 to 18, in Albuquerque, NM. “So, that is, I guess, my most immediate goal that I’m working towards.”

After living in Portland, OR, for several years, Johnson and her husband, Nick, pulled up stakes a year ago and have been on the road ever since, traveling to races and training sites. Johnson says it’s eventually her goal to live in Boston, MA, as she competes professionally as a member of the Boston Athletic Association High Performance Team.

Regardless of where she’s living, though, Johnson will always have a home at the IATCCC Hall of Fame.

“For the coaches to still be able to recognize that even though I wasn’t doing these things as a high school kid, is pretty cool,” she says.