Johnson's Coaching Honors
Johnson by the Numbers
2 - IAAF World Junior Champions
3 - USA Junior & Pan American Junior Champions
4 - Olympians (3 at Clemson)
5 - NCAA Champions
11 - ACC Meet Most Valuable Performers
34 - Clemson Event Record-Holders
65 - ACC Champions (48 at Clemson)
Lawrence Johnson is in his fifth season as Clemson’s director of track & field and cross country. Under his leadership, the men’s team has shown consistent progress, while the women’s program has blossomed into the ACC’s best and one of the elite-level programs in the nation.
Clemson has swept the ACC indoor and outdoor team championships in women’s track & field each of the past three seasons. Johnson also swept ACC and Southeast Region Coach-of-the-Year honors from 2010-12.
In just four years, Johnson has coached 82 All-Americans and 48 ACC event champions. His athletes have been named the ACC meet most valuable performers on the track or in the field 11 times, while four have been named Athlete of the Year by the conference.
Johnson’s athletes have continued to establish school records as the program elevates to new heights. Thirty-four of the current school indoor or outdoor men’s and women’s records have been set under Johnson’s watch.
The Clemson women’s program earned top-five team finishes at the NCAA Championships in 2012. The indoor team tied for fifth place, while the outdoor team produced a program-best fourth-place tie. His program produced 25 All-Americans in 2012 alone, as well as 17 ACC event champions.
Individually, Brianna Rollins was NCAA runner-up in the high hurdles both seasons. She was the ACC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, while Marlena Wesh won the honor outdoors. Dezerea Bryant swept ACC Freshman of the Year honors, while April Sinkler was named ACC Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year.
Three athletes he coached at Clemson, including two currently on the 2012-13 roster, competed in the London Olympics in August. Warren Fraser represented the Bahamas in the 100 dash, while Wesh competed in the 400 for Haiti. Patricia Mamona, who won a pair of NCAA Championships under Johnson in the triple jump, competed for Portugal.
Johnson’s program produced three top-25 NCAA team finishes in 2011, highlighted by the women’s team’s No. 7 standing at the national outdoor meet. He coached three NCAA individual champions - Rollins in the 60 hurdles, Miller Moss in the heptathlon, and Mamona in the outdoor triple jump. He also coached NCAA runner-up April Sinkler in the indoor triple jump and Liane Weber in the heptathlon.
Clemson won the 2010 indoor crown in surprising fashion to some. The Tigers were thought to be underdogs heading into the three-day meet, but Johnson’s team dominated the event by tallying 145.5 points. Clemson won both the indoor and outdoor meet by over 50-point margins.
Under Johnson’s watch, the 2010 women’s team totaled 17 All-America performers. Ten were at the NCAA Indoor Championships, when the team tied for seventh place. It was Clemson’s highest finish since the 2001 team tied for third. The team followed with another top-20 finish in the spring, finishing 18th behind Mamona’s first national championship performance in the triple jump.
In terms of individual accolades, several of Johnson’s athletes stood out in 2010. Mamona was named the ACC’s Outdoor Field Athlete-of-the-Year, while Sinkler was the league’s Meet MVP during both seasons. Weber was a first-team ESPN the Magazine Academic All-American, while Mamona was named to the third team. In addition to Rollins’ indoor rookie honor, Kendrick went on to be named ACC Outdoor Freshman-of-the-Year.
The 2010 season was a banner year for both individual and relay championships at the ACC level as well. Sinkler won the indoor and outdoor high jump and long jump, while Weber swept the pentathlon and heptathlon with ACC records. The Tigers capped both meets by winning a relay on the final day. Indoors, a team of four freshmen captured the 4x400 relay in dominant fashion. Outdoors, Clemson took home the 4x100 relay. Both relays went on to All-America performances at the NCAA Championships.
Johnson’s ability as a coach was first displayed for the Tigers at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships, where two-sport athlete Jacoby Ford won his first-ever national crown in the 60 dash. Clemson produced seven All-Americans in his first year alone, but that only taps the surface of what Johnson was able to accomplish in his initial campaign as a Division I head coach.
Ford earned three of the All-America honors by himself in 2009 and excelled in his only season within Johnson’s system. Ford established an ACC record time of 6.51 in winning the league’s 60 dash title. He also went on to win the 100 dash outdoors. Ford capped his brilliant season with an NCAA East Regional title in the 100 dash and 4x100 relay.
The 4x100 relay, consisting of Ford, C.J. Spiller, Justin Murdock and Trenton Guy, experienced a level never before seen at Clemson. Johnson and Assistant Coach Tim Hall carefully put the pieces of the puzzle together, and returned home with a third-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships after establishing a school record (38.77).
Perhaps the most visible aspect of Johnson’s impact in his first year was the turnaround experienced by the women’s team. Clemson finished third at the 2009 ACC Indoor Championships, an incredible five-spot improvement from the previous year. As it turned out, it was only a foreshadowing of things to come.
Johnson personally coached three champions at the meet, Sinkler in the high jump and long jump, and Weber in the pentathlon. Sinkler was named the ACC Field MVP at the conclusion of the meet. Weber went on to earn her first-ever All-America certificate after placing sixth in the pentathlon at the NCAA Championships.
Johnson, 37, was one of the top assistant coaches in collegiate track & field when approached by Clemson’s administration about the possibility of becoming the school’s next head coach. He coached the sprints, hurdles, jumps, and multi-events for the men and women at Virginia Tech. He was coming off a 2008 season in which he was named Southeast Region Assistant Coach-of-the-Year by the USTFCCCA.
Johnson’s groups were a big reason the Hokies claimed four straight ACC championships and two consecutive NCAA East Region titles on the women’s side since 2006-07. In 2007, he was named National Assistant Coach-of-the-Year for women’s sprints and hurdles.
In total, Johnson coached 10 NCAA All-Americans and 17 ACC champions in his four years with the Virginia Tech program. He also coached eight NCAA East Region individual champions.
In 2008, he coached the Tech women’s sprinters and hurdlers to historic seasons. One of his athletes, Queen Harrison, earned a spot on the United States roster for the Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Under Johnson’s watchful eye, Harrison was the first female in Virginia Tech history to be named to a U.S. Olympic team.
Harrison and Kristi Castlin combined to win ACC Championships in the 100 hurdles and 400 hurdles, and All-America honors in the 60 hurdles under Johnson’s teaching in 2008.
Johnson’s student-athletes have experienced great success on the international scene as well. Both Castlin and Harrison earned gold medals in the summer of 2007 at the Pan American Junior Championships. Castlin won the 100 hurdles with a meet record, while Harrison accomplished the same feat in the 400 hurdles.
International success has followed Johnson’s athletes in his time at Clemson. Kendrick won an individual gold medal in the 200 dash at the IAAF World Junior Championships, while also adding a gold as a member of the 4x100 relay for Team USA in 2010. Kendrick’s individual championship was the first in Clemson women’s track & field history at the world juniors.
Dezerea Bryant added a gold for the Tiger program in the 4x100-meter relay in 2012. Bryant was also the USA Junior Champion in the 100-meter dash and bronze medalist at World Juniors in the 200.
In 2012, Alyssa Kulik (steeplechase) and Brianna Rollins (100 hurdles) collected gold medals at the North American, Central American and Car Under-23 Championships in Guanajuato, Mexico.
Prior to his four-year appointment at Virginia Tech, Johnson spent two years as an assistant at Southern Illinois. Prior to that stop, he assisted with the instruction of sprints, hurdles, and jumps at the University of Arkansas from 1999-2002. The Razorbacks won back-to-back SEC “triple crown” championships during that time.
Johnson earned an undergraduate degree in kinesiology from Arkansas in 2000. He earned one varsity letter with the Razorbacks’ nationally-renowned program. As a sprinter, he helped Arkansas to four SEC indoor and outdoor championships and the 1998 NCAA Outdoor national championship.
In 1995, Johnson was a member of the “triple crown” national championship track & field team at Blinn College in Texas. He also was a 1996 South Coast Conference champion in the 400 at Long Beach City College before moving on to Arkansas.
Johnson is married to the former Lilly Montgomery. The couple has four children, Desirae (18), Lawrence (12), Laniah (8), and Lukas (7).