THE NEXT STEPS

Javan Johnson is walking the back nine of his college golf career.

Some might be melancholy about nearing the conclusion of their role in organized athletics, but not Johnson, a fifth-year senior for the Taylor men’s team.

The Franklin graduate sees himself on the sport’s tee box, not its green.

“After college, I’m probably going to stay in golf. I love to teach, and there are so many great opportunities that I might as well give back,” said Johnson, the No. 1 player on a senior-dominated Trojans squad ranked No. 10 in the latest NAIA poll.

“It’s just the connections and friendships I’ve been able to make through golf. I want other people to experience that, too.”

Johnson’s list of college accomplishments, from both a statistical and leadership standpoint, can’t help but look good on the résumés he sends out.

One of three Taylor team captains along with fourth-year seniors Noah Ross and Erik Fahlen, Johnson’s benefit to the Trojans reaches well beyond him being at the top of first-year coach Lorne Oke’s lineup.

“Javan is a leader among our five seniors because he’s the one the others want to beat,” said Oke, previously an administrator at Indiana Wesleyan who coached the Wildcats men’s and women’s golf teams from 2016 to 2019. “He’s kind of the measuring stick among them.

“It’s great to have someone with Javan’s golf IQ and competitive nature. As a leader, Javan does it all. He talks to a guy individually, talks to them collectively and he leads by example in terms of his ability to focus and deliver solid results.”

Johnson helped the Trojans get their spring season under way last week with his performance at the Showdown at the Legends in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He secured medalist honors with a three-round total of 216; his first-round 68 was the lowest 18-hole round by any individual.

In October, Johnson defeated junior teammate Adam Kasitz in a playoff for the low overall score at the Crossroads League Preview, the final fall event and one Taylor dominated.

Among Johnson’s many accolades is being named second-team NAIA All-American after carding an average 18-hole score of 73.73 in 33 matches played during the 2020-21 school year. Not surprisingly, his name is included on numerous all-time lists in the Taylor record book.

Johnson, a sport management major who minors in accounting, carries a 3.5 grade-point average, which has earned him academic all-league status as well.

The Trojans don’t compete again until later this month at the Garn Championship in Nicholasville, Kentucky. The ultimate goal is to be part of the NAIA National Championships, scheduled for May 16-19 in Mesa, Arizona.

Taylor qualified a year ago, finishing 24th of 29 teams. The Trojans were 11th in 2021 and ninth two seasons prior to that (there was no 2020 event due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Oke is confident his current squad has what it takes fare better. Perhaps substantially better.

“This group really feels it has proven a lot as a class, but we’re doing things mentally and competitively to get ready for the national tournament,” Oke said. “I’ve had all the players go through an analysis of their game.

“Javan gets it, and the other players turn to him a lot to be able to evaluate their games.”

There he is, coaching already.

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Mike Beas is the Daily Journal's veteran sports reporter. He has been to more than 200 Indiana high schools, including 1990s visits to Zionsville to profile current Boston Celtics GM Brad Stevens, Gary Roosevelt to play eventual Purdue All-American Glenn Robinson in HORSE (didn’t end well) and Seeger to visit the old gym in which Stephanie White, later the coach of the Indiana Fever, honed her skills in pickup games involving her dad and his friends. He can be reached at [email protected]