An Enterprise Staff Report
Yet another Harlan County cross country runner will compete at the college level next season, as senior Donavan Johnson signed with Alice Lloyd College on Monday.
“I am excited today for the college. We are signing another great student athlete,” said Alice Lloyd Cross Country Coach Gary Stepp. “I am proud of Ryan Vitatoe (for the program he has built at HC). We know we’re getting a quality student-athlete when we sign one of his runners.”
In only his second year of running, Johnson earned a spot on the varsity teams and improved his time by nearly two minutes.
“I’m very proud of Donavan. His improvement over a two year span has been unbelievable, and he has worked very hard to prepare himself for this challenge,” said Harlan County coach Ryan Vitatoe. “I think his work ethic will ensure he will improve and fit well with what Coach Stepp is trying to build at Alice Lloyd. He’s ready for the next level, and I’m excited to see what he will accomplish.”
Johnson helped to lead the Black Bears to a second-place finish at the Region 7 meet. Regional coaches selected him to the all-area and all-region cross country teams. He has a 3.5 grade point average, takes dual credit classes, and will graduate with an academic honors diploma.
“I am really glad I could have this opportunity to run in college. It is exciting that someone wanted me to run for them,” said Johnson.
Stepp noted that “(Donavan) improves every race. His times get better throughout the season.”
Johnson said “as the season progressed, it got more serious as I was thinking about college. I wanted to be better for college.”
Johnson will join fellow seniors Kassie Rouse and Jennifer Graham, who both signed with ALC recently.
“It will make it easier having friends around,” said Johnson. “I already know them and I have trained with them for a couple of years… It is more like home by having them there.
Johnson credited Vitatoe with guiding him to this opportunity. “He has been everything for me,” he said. “He has been the role model that you want to follow. He is building a great program. Everyone loves him. He is an amazing guy.”
Johnson, the son of Chris and Jamie Johnson, of Baxter, is looking to major in biology and possibly a pursue a career in medicine.