The end of the season for Johnathon Sawyer, a sprinter on Grambling State’s track team who has turned heads since his first day on campus, came in May.
Sawyer, a native of Austin Texas, runs the 400 meter dash for the GSU track and field team. This season he was able to qualify for the NCAA Regional meet on the first meet of the season.
“I didn’t know I would run that fast until I came around the final stretch.” Sawyer said.
Sawyer ran a time of 46.5 seconds in his season opener… without using blocks. Blocks are what all top level sprinters use in the beginning of each race. They kneel down and place themselves into blocks, so they can use their power to help them explode out in the start of the race. Sawyer said he did not use blocks because of an injury, but that injury did not stop him from running the number one 400 meter time in the conference. This performance put high expectations on Sawyer’s season early, which motivated him to continue to work and put forth his best efforts.
“I work well under pressure,” Sawyer said
“I like the target on my back. I want you to put all the focus on me so you can think you have a plan to beat me. Then when you try to execute that plan, I will still not let you win against me.”
Sawyer uses his natural love for the sport and his dogmatic attitude as a tool to help him run his best in meets and during practice. This season, an obstacle Sawyer faced gave him extra fuel to such a spectacular outdoor season.
During the indoor track season, Sawyer was running well and in top form as the season was coming to a close. He was preparing for the indoor SWAC championship, but during his 400 meter dash he faced an injury which caused him to pull up in the middle of the race.
“I tried to ignore it at first, so I kept running,” says Sawyer, “But after I felt my leg cramp up two more times, I knew that I needed to stop.”
Sawyer ended the indoor season with the fastest 400 meter time in the conference and was named SWAC Athlete of the Week in April, but was not able to come out and win what seemed like it belonged to him. This feeling of disappointment propelled him to come out during his outdoor season and declare a position to run in the NCAA Regional Championship early.
“I always wanted to run on TV, and it felt good knowing I secured that from the jump,” Sawyer said.
At the NCAA Regional Track Meet, Sawyer ran a 46.96 second 400 meter.
Though he did not end the season on the exact note he would have wanted to, he still finds happiness in another aspect of life.
“My son J3 makes me smile from the time I wake up to the time he’s sleeping.” Sawyer said.
Sawyer’s newborn son is now his motivation to do what he does.
“My son makes me move differently.” Sawyer said. “I know I have someone to care for, someone that looks up to me. I never knew I could love anything so much.”
Going into his final athletic year in 2019-2020, Sawyer is approaching his next season with the same killer mindset, but now with greater motivation behind it.