There’s been a long list of college suitors, but the bonds of brotherhood were just too strong for any of them to overcome. When it came time for Kyree Johnson to sit down and make a decision he knew there was only one place for him: Texas A&M, where his best friend and longtime teammate Infinite Tucker is finishing up his freshman year.
Johnson has won county, state and national indoor and outdoor track championships with the Blue Devils and his performances have put him on the radar of many NCAA Division I colleges. Numerous college coaches called on him and he visited several schools, but it seems like he was destined all along for College Station, Texas. The bond with Tucker is just that strong.
“I’m so proud of this young man, but more importantly, I’m proud to be part of this great Huntington community that has stood by his side,” said Ronald Wilson, head coach of the Huntington boy’s track and field program. “Kyree has such a great supporting staff that it’s pretty much impossible for him to fail. His teachers find him to be most pleasant and they don’t mind helping him as he continues to achieve success both in the classroom and on the track. He also has a community that stands behind him and continues to push him toward his goals. His pastor has worked with and mentored him through many troubling times. His parents, Katrina McNeil-Carter and his father, Vincent Johnson have both been great in making sure that Kyree is taking care of his business both inside the classroom and on the track. I can’t begin to tell you the number of phone calls I had to make to both parents regarding Kyree. But I must say, it was well worth it. I truly love this young man and his family.”
The “Dream Team” is moving on
Huntington senior Kyree Johnson.
Wilson is excited that another of his protégés is headed to the premier college track program in the country. “Texas A&M is getting one of our prized gems,” the coach said. “The dream team of last year is now moving on in their own right with Lawrence Leake heading to Georgetown and Shane McGuire to Buffalo. I’m just glad that I was here to witness them grow from boys to men. They will forever be in my thoughts and my prayers.”
Texas A&M recently won the 2017 NCAA Division I men’s indoor track and field championship. The Aggies have also won four national outdoor team titles 2009. One of the premier college track programs in the United States, the school sent several athletes to the recent Olympic Games.
Johnson trains hard and competes even harder. But he said his mother, Katrina is the inspiration for his success. As the gold medals and trophies keep accumulating, the teenager isn’t letting success get to his head. “I’m just trying to make my mom and my family proud,” he said.
The senior likes to credit those around him for helping him become one of America’s top high school athletes. “An important factor has been my teammates,” Johnson said. “Since Finley Middle School, Lawrence [Leake] has pushed me to be the best runner and competitor that I can be. I also want to thank the officials for everything. They have been 100 percent supportive.”
Good relationships with Huntington teachers
While he is exceedingly comfortable in the athletic arena, Johnson knows that what happens in a classroom is crucial to his future success in life. He’s developed good relationships with many Huntington teachers, including social studies department member Erik Bruckbauer and math teacher David Moriarty.
“I first met Mr. Bruckbauer in tenth grade,” Johnson said. “He was my Global History teacher. I had him again in eleventh and twelfth grade for US History and also for Participation in Government and Criminal Justice. Since the first day I met him he has always held me to a high standard. I also want to thank Mr. Moriarty for always keeping me on track.”
Thrives on being the best
“Kyree is hard-working and is dedicated to being the best that he can be,” Wilson said. “Just like Infinite Tucker, he thrives on being the best and pleasing you as a coach. We are blessed to have had this young man for the past five years. He does drive me crazy sometimes, but then he knows how to smooth things out and make it better.”
Founded in 1876, there are more than 59,000 students enrolled on Texas A&M’s College Station campus and 65,000 studying at all of its sites. Johnson is interested in studying business and the school has a highly regarded program.
While Johnson has helped Huntington’s track and field program to become nationally known, he holds affection for the schools and athletes he has competed so hard against. He’s never forget them, regardless of how far from home he travels.
“I want to give a shout-out to all the athletes and coaches from around Long Island that I competed with, including Half Hollow Hills West,” Johnson said. “Their track and field program has definitely pushed me. It’s also been great to compete against Amityville since ninth grade. We have been close friends with their athletes and coaches and they have been great competitors.”
Texas A&M is in the midst of constructing a $40 million track and field stadium. The 52,000 square foot complex, which is scheduled to open next spring, includes a nine-lane sprint and hurdle straightaway down the middle of an Olympic standard nine-lane running oval along with a dual field event area.