Camden's Johnson to join UNC-Pembroke women's track and field team
Won multiple regional championships in prep career
By Malcolm Shields
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
CAMDEN — Years of hard work has helped Brookelyn Johnson become one of the top 400-meter runners in the area.
Her accomplishments over the past three-plus seasons as a member of the Camden County High School girls’ track and field team has set her up to continue her track and field career at the college level.
With family, friends, coaches and teachers present, Johnson took part in a signing ceremony for her commitment to the University of North Carolina-Pembroke women’s track and field team Monday afternoon at Camden County High School’s media center.
Johnson acknowledged that running at the college level has been her goal since she was in sixth grade.
“I’ve been working for it every single year and when I first started, I didn’t think that I would be able to do it,” she said.
Even though she fought some self-doubt, others believed in her.
Johnson credits former Camden head track and field coach Michael Reaves for pushing her to improve.
“He’s the one who got me interested in the 400,” Johnson said. “I really fell in love with it. I owe a lot of that to him.”
Johnson also credited her parents for pushing her to compete when she didn’t want to.
Johnson knew during her freshman season after the first time she ran the 400, it was her event.
The results proved it.
During her freshman campaign, Johnson helped the Lady Bruins finish third in the NCHSAA Class 1A East Regional in the girls’ 4x400 meter relay.
She also finished fifth in the region in the 400 meters.
She would help the Lady Bruins advance to the Class 1A state meet in the 4x400 in 2016.
Johnson added more regional hardware her sophomore year as she helped the Lady Bruins take second in the 4x200 meter relay and added fourth-place times in the 4x400 and 4x800 meters.
Her breakout season came last spring as the junior won the 1A East Regional championship in the 400 meters.
“That was amazing because past years, I didn’t make it to states for the 400,” Johnson said.
Entering the regional, she had the second-best seeded time in the 400.
Johnson overcame some self-doubt and posted a time of 1:02.82 to secure the regional crown by a touch over two seconds over second place Kayla Stewart of East Carteret.
“To win it, to hold that title was incredible, especially as a junior,” she said. “It was amazing.”
She also helped the 4x800 meter relay team secure a regional championship last spring.
This season, Johnson has been a key contributor not only in the 400, but the 4x400 and 4x800 meter relay teams.
Johnson acknowledged having good chemistry with her teammates on the relays.
“I love it. They are a great group of girls,” she said. “They are hard working.”
Even though her teammates work hard, Johnson acknowledged that they are a funny group to be around.
“You’ll see us out there joking around before the race,” she said.
Camden track and field head coach Victoria Black has coached Johnson her entire high school career.
Black, who took over the Camden track program in 2018, noted that Johnson has grown as a leader on the team.
The coach added that Johnson has become a stronger runner both mentally and physically.
“It’s great to see her step up this year,” Black said.
This spring, Johnson won the Albemarle Athletic Conference championship in the 400 meters.
At the Class 1A East Regional in Edenton Friday, Johnson placed fourth in the 400 meters and was a member of the regional champion 4x800 and 4x400 meter relay teams.
As for the next level, Johnson expects to run the 400 meters for the UNC-Pembroke women’s track and field team.
The attraction of its small-town atmosphere was one of the positives Johnson liked about UNC-Pembroke, a Division II program.
“When I went there, it felt like that,” she said.
Johnson was able to meet with some of the current athletes at UNCP and noted the girls on the team were really nice and awesome.
“They had a family mentality and that’s what I like in a team,” Johnson said.
Before she trades in her Camden blue and white for UNCP black and gold, Johnson will compete at the Class 1A state championship meet Saturday at North Carolina A&T State in Greensboro.
Saturday will conclude her four-year prep career with a fourth consecutive trip to the state meet.
She is expected to compete in the 400, the 4x400 and 4x800 meter relays.
Johnson is aiming to obtain a personal record at the meet, set a good tone and leave the season knowing she did everything she could for herself and the program.