Senior Spotlight: Central High School track star fights through injury and illness

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Central High School's Simone Johnson came into the 2020 campaign as the top-ranked triple jumper in the state.

That was thanks in part to last year, recording the second-biggest jump in the state.

"My junior year I started off pretty good, but my problem was I kept rolling my ankle," Johnson said. "I ended up tearing the ligaments at one of the track meets. That was about halfway through my season, so I finished the season on a torn ligament."

Johnson would finish in 8th place at the state meet, but just when she had healed her ankle, she got sick from strep throat.

"It was so bad that I missed school for a week, and then I ended up going to the ER three times, and they found out that I had Lemierre syndrome," she said.

The bacterial infection forced her to Valley Children's Hospital. Back and healthy, she was eyeing gold at this year's state final.

A signing ceremony in February showed this isn't the end of her road.

"San Diego State is one of the top women's programs in the country," says Cedric Pulliam, Track and Field coach at Central High School. "Her goal that we talked about in the past was to make it to the Olympics, so she's in a good program that will definitely put her on the map and get her exposure and put her in the right direction."

"I'm still optimistic that I had a great junior season and great junior year to pay off for what I'm missing," Johnson said.

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