Photo by Drew King
Johnson stays consistent at Texas Relays
AUSTIN — T’Mond Johnson wasn’t even looking at Texas State.
As a senior thrower at Killeen, Johnson was getting recruited by multiple schools. The Bobcats initially weren’t on his list.
Head coach Jody Stewart called Johnson and invited him to San Marcos for a visit. Johnson accepted. It didn’t go quite as Stewart planned.
“I remember it was raining,” Johnson said. “But I could still see like how (the campus) could be really pretty. Of course, there’s a river through the middle of it. That’s definitely pretty exciting and pretty cool … It was just beautiful.”
Johnson fell in love with the team as well as the campus and committed to joining Texas State.
He’s been one of the Bobcats’ most consistent performers ever since.
The thrower credits his routine. He goes through the same motions every time he tosses. Step one, chalk anything and everything. His hands, his neck, the shot, all of it. Step two, get in “that zone.” He bounces on his toes, loosens his shoulders and sizes up his competitor in front of him as they launch the ball. Step three, get comfortable in the throwing circle, twist for a practice throw and then set up for the real thing.
Step four, don’t think.
“I just kind of go,” Johnson said. “After a while, you do it so much, you just get in the back of that ring and it’s competition, you don’t really think. You just kind of do your thing.”
Johnson’s process has helped him dominate in the Sun Belt. He placed in the top 10 in the shot put at the indoor and outdoor conference meets. He’s won both titles outright the past two seasons. He broke the school’s outdoor shot put record twice last season, first at the Roadrunner Invitational with a 19.59-meter throw on March 24, 2018, then again at the Sun Belt championships with a personal best 19.79 meters on May 13, 2018.
He’s advanced past the NCAA West outdoor preliminaries twice, taking 21st at nationals as a sophomore and 18th as a junior, earning All-American honorable mention both times.
But Johnson’s given himself loftier expectations this season. The senior wants to go and throw farther than ever before.
When Texas State throwing coach Austin Gamble joined the team in November, he held individual meetings with each of his student-athletes. Johnson informed him what his goals were for his final year. He wanted to make sure Gamble was along for the ride.
“My first impression was he’s serious about what he does,” Gamble said. “He asked a lot of thoughtful, insightful questions about training, what’s my philosophy, things like that.”
Gamble thought Johnson was realistic. Even more so when he found out about Johnson’s work ethic.
“A lot people can have physical talents and gifts,” Gamble said. “But if you don’t cultivate it and grow it, you don’t have anything. He really works hard, always asking what else can he do.”
Johnson’s off to a strong start. He took the 2019 Sun Belt indoor championship for the third consecutive season. He was awarded the conference’s Field Athlete of the Week accolade Wednesday for winning the shot put and earning a career best 53.77-meter discus throw at the Roadrunner Invitational last weekend.
On Saturday, he attended the 2019 92nd Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays for the final time. He’d done historically well inside Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin, taking sixth place in the shot put as a sophomore and second place as a junior.
He advanced to the finals as he had every other year, but finished in seventh, his best throw going for 18.5 meters. However, he never fouled on any of his six attempts, each going for at least 18 meters.
T'Mond Johnson is getting farther on each throw. His third goes for 18.50 meters. He remains in seventh place heading into the finals. Three more throws coming up @smdrsports #TexasRelays2019 pic.twitter.com/CKmausvh9K
— Drew King (@drewking0222) March 30, 2019
“Sometimes he can get discouraged a little bit and kinda say ‘Well, I’m doing all this work but I’m not seeing the results,’” Gamble said. “So, (he needs to) just keep pushing through and I think we’re gonna see some awesome results.”
Johnson dreams of earning one more Sun Belt outdoor title, throwing for 20.5 meters and making an NCAA All-American team this year. To get there, he’ll need to display the same consistency throughout the season.
“The biggest thing is just try to be the best athlete I can be,” Johnson said. “Just be the best I can be each day. There’s definitely marks I want to hit … But I think the biggest thing is, you can’t focus on marks. You have to go out there and throw and train. So, once you do that, those marks will come. It’ll be fun.”