Excerpt from an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution
Johnson, Rafferty will leave a void at Marist
By Jeff Hood jhood@ajc.com

When Kristen Johnson finished second in last month's Class AAAA girls cross country championship, Marist was well on its way to a sixth consecutive state team title.

Fighting flu-like symptoms, the consummate team player had to dig deep on that cool, overcast day in Carrollton. "Kristen was a little under the weather, so we knew she wasn't running 100 percent," Marist coach Shannon Hipp said. "Given that, she ran an incredible race." "Kristen gave everything she had. There was no sense of disappointment when she finished second."

As Johnson capped off a brilliant cross country varsity career that saw her finish first or second in each meet this season, Hipp realized she was losing one of the program's top runners and the team's unofficial liaison between the seniors and rest of team.

"It's a rare thing with runners to be concerned about everyone else because to be an elite runner you have to be so focused," Hipp said.

"You have to be individually motivated, and Kristen is that. But, she is also completely thinking of other people all the time."

Johnson recalls her freshman season when she was immediately embraced by the Marist upperclassmen. That camaraderie made an instant impression as she went on to run with the varsity team and finish ninth at the state meet that year.

"When I see the younger kids on the team, even if it's junior varsity, I make sure I know their name," Johnson said. "I want to make them feel important because I know what it feels like to be young and have all these people that you have to look up to."

Johnson, who won the 3,200 meters state championship in track and field last spring, recently posted an impressive 18:40 at the Foot Locker cross country regional meet in Charlotte.

Johnson hopes to receive a cross country scholarship offer, possibly from the University of Pennsylvania. She says running goes well beyond statistics. "I don't run just because of my time," Johnson said. "I run for a lot more than that. One of my favorite things about running is just getting to know people."

Kristen Johnson helped Marist to its sixth consecutive state team girls title, and James Raffety helped the boys to a second consecutive title. Both are seniors.
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