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BVT junior and javelin thrower Alana Johnson, shown in the front, is the first athlete in the school's girls track and field program to qualify for the nationals. Contributed photo

Blackstone Valley Tech junior Alana Johnson became the first athlete in the girls' track and field program's history to qualify for the national meet this spring, and said the experience is one that she will treasure and one that left her wanting to get back to compete again with the nation's best.
"The experience was absolutely incredible," said Johnson, a javelin thrower. "I was a little nervous
at first, but it was really amazing. For people who are nervous about going to nationals, if you qualify, definitely take the opportunity."
Johnson qualified for the Emerging Elite division of the national meet in North Carolina thanks to a throw of more than 115 feet at the district meet. The toss was good enough to give her a district title, and she went on to place top-10 in the states.
The Northbridge resident said she was a little disappointed in her finish at nationals and was hampered by an arm injury, but the trip still proved to be a worthwhile experience.
Due to the high cost of shipping a javelin, Johnson and her mother, Jenn, drove down from Massachusetts to North Carolina. Driving through Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia gave Johnson a chance to see parts of the country she never had before. She also had the chance to meet with college coaches from Division 1
schools. Competing at the collegiate level is one of her goals.
"She is extremely dedicated," said BVT track coach Barry Coonan. "I think she is going to
be a better college athlete than a high school athlete because she is one of those kids who is going to get better and stronger."
Johnson started throwing the javelin in the eighth grade and competed at the state vocational meet that season. She was one of the team's captains this year and will serve as captain of both the soccer and track teams during her senior year. Johnson was quick to credit Coonan and her other coaches for being instrumental in her success.
"I had the support of my coaches and training staff," she said. "I was nervous about going to nationals by myself. If I wasn't pushed and supported, I don't think I would have gone."
Johnson has a few goals in mind for next season. She hopes to break the school record and will come into the year only about a foot away from doing so. She also wants to break 120 feet, repeat as district champion, improve her standing at states and, of course, get back to the national meet.
"I can't leave off with what I threw there this year," Johnson said. "I know I can do better and I know I can compete there."




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