Originally created 11/13/97

Johnson signs with University of North Carolina



Former North Augusta three-sport standout Michael Johnson is just beginning to touch the surface of his track potential.

Johnson, a track All-American at Hinds (Miss.) Junior College, signed with the University of North Carolina on Wednesday. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder chose the Tar Heels over Clemson, Tennessee, West Virginia, Texas Christian, Mississippi State and Georgia.

The former Yellow Jackets' standout did not even run track until his senior year. He also played football and basketball, and was a second-team All-Area basketball selection by The Augusta Chronicle in 1995-96.

"My track coach (current Carolina Academy football coach Carlisle Koonts) begged me for four years to come out for the track team and finally, my senior year, I said I would give it a try," Johnson said.

Johnson, who set a Hinds school record with a time of 4.28 in the 40, will run the 100, 200 and 4X100 relay at North Carolina. He won the 100 meters in the Junior College National Championships in Odessa, Texas, last year but was disqualified.

"They disqualified me because they said I taunted," Johnson said.

He has been timed at 10.32 in the 100 and 21.2 in the 200. Johnson, 20, said he gave up football while at Hinds so he could concentrate solely on track. He originally signed a football scholarship with Hinds.

"When I was at North Augusta, I was just running on natural ability," Johnson said. "I've learned so much here about mechanics and techniques that I didn't know."

Also, Augusta Prep golfer Courtland Lowe signed with Wake Forest and Augusta Prep tennis star Kathleen Mele signed with Alabama.

Lowe is ranked No. 17 nationally among prep golfers, while Mele is No. 8 in the country in doubles with Nashville native Jenny Ketchum.