From Wildcats to Sycamores: Nationally ranked trio comes from same roots
Published: Friday, April 26, 2013
Updated: Friday, April 26, 2013 16:04
It all started at Lawrence North High School as Wildcats and ends at Indiana State University as Sycamores.
Under former head track and field coach Kenneth Browner, seniors Brandon Pounds, an exercise science major, Felisha Johnson, a recreation and sports management major and Stacia Weatherford, a communications major, polished their skills through an intensive training program. The three trained year round with Browner getting faster and stronger thanks to workouts such as 100-meter sprints, 800-meter runs and weight lifting. Pounds said all that hard work has paid off as nine years of practicing track and field the group graduates with not only a degree but, collectively, a slew of medals, awards and All-American titles.
“It is nice to have someone from home on the team,” Weatherford said. “I’m happy to have them here as teammates again.”
Throughout their careers at Indiana State the three have won many collegiate awards, both at the Missouri Valley Conference level and at the national level. Johnson won the NCAA Division I women’s weight throw competition two times throughout her career as a Sycamore and was named All-American six times. In addition, Johnson has competed at the professional level when she traveled to a number of USA Track and Field sanctioned competitions. Her most recent accomplishment was her fourth place finish at the 2013 USA Track and Field Indoor Championship.
She currently holds three of the six throws event school records at ISU. Her first was in the 20-pound weight throw with a throw of 23.52 meters (77’ 2”). She holds both indoor and outdoor shot put records with distance of 17.80 meters (58’ 4.75”) for indoor and 18.10 meters (59’ 4.75”) for outdoor.
She is second in the discus with 55.03 meters (180’ 6”), just behind the current record, 55.10 meters (180’ 9”) by Julie Koebcke in 1995. Johnson sits fourth in the hammer with a throw of 62.58 meters (205’ 4”).
“Johnson and I have had many tough days of training and it’s good to see someone that you have known for years who puts in the same amount of hard work to be the best that we can be,” Pounds said.
Pounds quickly made a name for himself in the MVC after winning the shot put and 35-pound weight throw his freshman year. He continued to build on his accomplishments and has competed at the NCAA Division I nationals three times, earning three All-American titles.
Weatherford attended Indiana State a year later than Pounds and Johnson but was familiar with the two throwers from her days at Lawrence North. Unlike her fellow teammates, Weatherford competed in the 100-and 300-meter hurdles, 400-meter dash and 4x400-meter relay. She currently holds the ISU record in the 60-meter hurdles and has been named All-American in the 400-meter hurdles..
The trio met playing basketball at Lawrence North before deciding to pursue a career in track. Pounds said he and Johnson decided to make the switch to throwing shot put early on in high school. While Pounds eventually quit the basketball team to focus on track, Johnson continued to compete in both sports and eventually picked up golf as well. Weatherford played alongside Johnson on the women’s basketball team. She too branched off and began competing in track.
In 2009, Weatherford won the 300-meter hurdles at the Indiana High School Athletic Association State Track and Field Competition. Pounds won the state title in 2008 in the shot put and Johnson also won state in the shot and was a player on the Indiana All-Star team.
Following high school, Indiana State wasn’t their first choices. After successful senior years the trio were made a number of offers from track programs around the country.
“I visited University of Kentucky, Kent State University, University of Minnesota and Ball State, but I didn’t like the coaching staffs,” Weatherford said.
Johnson said she looked at other universities as well her senior year but felt ISU’s program was the best fit for her.
After completing their studies, Johnson and Pounds are looking into competing professionally. Pounds said if a professional career does not work out he is prepared to face “the real world and start a career.”