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Southern's Brian Johnson Captures D1 Long Jump National Title

March 16, 2003

BATON ROUGE, LA ≠ Southernís Brian Johnson, a senior from Iowa, LA, left basketball behind in January as he saw his playing time dwindling, to concentrate on track and field, and the move resulted in a national title in the long jump in the NCAA Indoor Championships held in Fayetteville, AR this weekend.

In his first NCAA indoor meet, Johnson sailed 27 feet, 2 inches on his first attempt to blow away the competition in the Randal Tyson Track Center. His second- and third-longest jumps measured 26-9 and would have been good enough to beat runner-up Frank Tolen of Nebraska, who had a 26-61/4.

A two-time All-American outdoors, Johnson came into the meet with the second-longest jump in the NCAA this winter. He left with the third-longest jump in the world, trailing only Yago Lamela of Spain (27-8) and Savante Stringfellow of the United States (27-21/2).

"I came here with a mission: I wanted to win a national title," said Johnson, who has finished third in the last two NCAA outdoor meets. "I didn't feel good in warmups, but I got a rubdown and felt kind of loose after that."

Johnson's winning mark Friday night was 111/4 inches longer than the 26-23/4 he posted at Houston on Feb. 15. LSU's John Moffitt, the national leader with a best of 26-61/4 coming into the meet, finished fifth with a 26-1.

It was actually over before it started for Moffitt, who was jumping in the second flight of the trials. Johnson popped his winning jump in the first flight, leaving the rest of the field behind early.

"The first jump didn't surprise me at all," said Southern coach Johnny Thomas, who gave an assist to Jaguars basketball coach Ben Jobe for letting Johnson, who is on scholarship for basketball, focus on track.

"I was hoping he would get in the first flight and get a good one in and get the other guys off his back. I wanted other people to think, and it seemed like it worked out like that."

With the victory, Johnson joined former Southern standouts Theron Lewis and Rodney Milburn as the only Jaguars to win titles in the 39-year history of the NCAA indoor meet.

Lewis claimed the 440-yard dash in 1965 and Milburn took the 55-meter hurdles crown in 1973.

Johnson, who was playing basketball during the last three NCAA indoor meets, said last week he wanted to win a title to make his career complete.

"That was my big thing," he said. "I won in high school and I've been third in the outdoor meet the last couple of years. I wasn't worried about how far I went, I just wanted to be on top and put my (index) finger up."

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