Mountaineer track and field duo receive preseason national rankings


Zack Antrum, Senior Reporter

Spring sports are right around the corner, and the App State track and field team will look forward to seeing nationally ranked Jordan Johnson and Peighton Simmons perform this season.

Going into the outdoor season, both athletes are ranked in the top 35 in the country by the Preseason National Rating Index from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for their respective events. Johnson is a junior jumper and sprinter for the men’s team, while Simmons, also a junior, participates in those same events on the women’s team. 

“They both bring great experience to their events and to the team,” head coach Damion McLean said via email. “(They show) their teammates what it takes to be showcased on the national stage. The work ethic of someone of their caliber is different than some newcomers to the team. They will end up being great mentors to the newcomers as to what is expected of them.”

Johnson’s jump of 7.67 meters during the 2017-18 season has him ranked 22nd in the country going into the season. At the Appalachian Open on Dec. 6 and 7, he won the event with a jump of 7.40 meters, which places him at ninth in the nation.

Simmons is ranked 35th in the triple jump after a jump of 12.77 meters at the Appalachian Open. This jump is the fourth best in App State history and, at one point, was ranked fifth in the nation. She is currently ranked ninth in the country in the triple jump.

“It honestly feels unreal to be ranked so highly in the preseason,” Simmons wrote via email. “My season opener was a personal record for me, which sort of has me shell-shocked at how well I actually performed at the first meet of the season. I’m definitely super excited for what the rest of the indoor season will look like.” 

McLean said he is proud of both Jordan and Peighton but understands that there’s still work to be done on his end if he wants their success to continue and spread to the rest of his team as well.

“Everything starts with me, but the best way is to trust myself of how I’ve set up their training programs throughout the year,” McLean said. “There will be some times where I know they will not do well, (but) in order for them to peak at the right times throughout the season, (I must) make sure they believe in what I am explaining to them on a regular basis to reach their goals and expectations.”

The track and field team will next be in action on Sunday, Jan. 19 when they travel to Winston-Salem to compete in the JDL January College Kickoff.