Chris Johnson - Women's Track & Field - Arkansas Razorbacks

Chris Johnson



  • 2018 NCAA Women’s Outdoor National Assistant Coach of the Year
  • 2019 NCAA Women’s Indoor National Assistant Coach of the Year
  • 2021 NCAA Women’s Indoor National Assistant Coach of the Year
  • 2023 NCAA Women’s Indoor National Assistant Coach of the Year
  • 2023 NCAA Women’s Outdoor National Assistant Coach of the Year
  • 15-Time Regional Assistant Coach of the Year, 9 times with Arkansas

Coached athletes:

  • Six Olympians
  • 1 Olympic gold medalist
  • Bowerman finalists: Janeek Brown, Britton Wilson

Assistant Coach of the Year Awards

NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region Indoor 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
NCAA Mid-Atlantic Region Outdoor 2008, 2010
NCAA South Central Region Indoor 2016, 2018, 2021, 2022, 2023
NCAA South Central Region Outdoor 2013, 2017, 2019, 2023


  • Aleesha Barber (Penn State)
  • Regina George
  • Taylor Ellis-Watson (Gold Medalist)
  • Chrishuna Williams
  • Shafiqua Maloney
  • Sparkle McKnight

Chris Johnson became the head coach of the women’s program on July 1, 2023 in his 13th season with the University of Arkansas. Johnson returned to Fayetteville prior to the 2012 season after eight seasons as an assistant coach with Penn State.

Johnson has been named the National Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year five times, earning the accolade twice in 2023, and has totaled 15 region coaching honors, six with Penn State and nine with Arkansas, including a pair of honors in 2023 for the indoor and outdoor seasons.

A record breaking 2023 season included an indoor world record in the 4 x 400m relay (3:21.75), an American and collegiate indoor record by Britton Wilson in the 400m (49.48), along with an indoor 600m collegiate record as well as Wilson breaking the outdoor 400m collegiate record three times (49.51, 49.40, 49.13).

In the hurdles, Ackera Nugent swept the NCAA 60m hurdles and NCAA 100m hurdles titles, breaking the collegiate record indoors (7.72) and producing the fastest collegiate all-conditions 100m hurdles (12.25w).

Nugent and Wilson were named among the 10 semifinalists for The Bowerman in 2023, with Wilson becoming one of the three finalists.

Razorback sprinters scored all 46 points in placing third at the NCAA Outdoor. Three finalists in the 400m totaled 19 points off a 2-3-4 finish from Wilson (49.64), Nickisha Pryce (50.23), and Rosey Effiong (50.77). It marked only the fourth time for one school to have three finalists in the 400m final.

Indoors, the Razorbacks advanced three to the final and scored 18 points off a 1-4-6 finish from Wilson (49.48), Effiong (50.54), and Amber Anning (51.22). In winning the relay with a time of 3:21.75 that bettered the outdoor collegiate record set in 2022, all four Razorbacks produced the fastest collegiate split ever on their respective legs – Anning (51.47), Joanne Reid (50.52), Effiong (50.57), and Wilson (49.19), who ran a world-best relay split.

During the 2023 summer, five Razorbacks advanced to the 400m finals in three separate national championships, with each earning a spot in the 400m or relay pool for the 2023 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Pryce claimed the Jamaican title in a career best 50.21, Wilson finished as silver medalist in US Championships in 49.79, Anning placed fourth in the British Champs with an outdoor career best of 51.62, Effiong placed fifth in the US Champs, and Reid finished seventh in Jamaica.

In earning the 2021 NCAA Women’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year honor, the event groups coached by Johnson scored in seven events at the NCAA Indoor Championships and totaled 30 points. Three Arkansas school records were established during the national meet in the 60m, 800m, and 4×400 relay.

The 2022 campaign featured an indoor collegiate record in the 4 x 400 relay as the Razorbacks won the SEC Indoor title in 3:24.09, with Britton Wilson supplying an anchor leg of 49.83 seconds, the second fastest world indoor split all-time. In winning the NCAA Indoor 4 x 400 relay, the Razorbacks posted a time of 3:27.23 and Arkansas became the first school to win the 4 x 400 and distance medley relay at the same NCAA Indoor Championships.

Serving as the world leading time for the 2022 indoor season, the 3:24.09 even surpassed the outdoor record for the Razorbacks at that time.

During the 2022 outdoor season Wilson represented the Razorbacks on a world stage, earning a gold medal at the World Championships as a member of the United States 4 x 400 relay. Running third leg, supplying a split of 49.39, Wilson increased the advantage the U.S. had established. The winning time of 3:17.79 was the world leading mark for 2022. Wilson also competed in the 400m hurdles, placing fifth in the final from lane 1.

Wilson won the NCAA Championships in the 400m hurdles after claiming a very rare SEC double in the 400m and 400m hurdles, in which she became the first female to accomplish in the SEC. Wilson set then career best times and Arkansas school records of 50.05 and 53.75. Her time in the 400m hurdles would be improved to 53.08 as a silver medalist in the USATF Championships.

Arkansas improved the outdoor school record in the 4 x 400 relay with a 3:22.55, third best on all-time collegiate list, in finishing third in the SEC Championships. Wilson anchored in the fastest collegiate time ever at 48.60. The Razorbacks also finished third in the NCAA Championships with a 3:23.69 performance as Wilson anchored in 49.55, the fifth best split in NCAA history.

The 2019 season featured nothing short of greatness as Johnson’s athletes combined for 25 first-team All-America performances throughout the indoor/outdoor seasons. Johnson coached Janeek Brown to an NCAA Championship in the 100-meter hurdles where the sophomore posted the second-fastest time in NCAA history crossing the line in 12.40 missing out on the record by one one-hundredth of a second. Johnson also helped coach Brown to a world best performance as the Kingston, Jamaica, native broke the single-day 100m hurdle/200m total with a total time of 34.80 to better the mark set by Jackie Joyner-Kersee in her 1988 Olympic season.

In 2018, Johnson led Taliyah Brooks to the NCAA title in the pentathlon as she totaled over 4,500 points along the way. Brooks performance at the NCAA meet led to her earning USTFCCCA honors as she was named the Women’s Field Athlete of the Year. Payton Chadwick was Johnson’s second National Champion at the indoor meet as she ran her way to the NCAA title in the 60-meter hurdles in a school-record time of 7.93 seconds. During that season Johnson also led his athletes to five program record performances – 60-meter hurdles, 100-meters, 100-meter hurdles, 4-x-400-meter relay, and long jump.

At the SEC meet, Johnson’s event groups were responsible for 36 of Arkansas’ points at the 2018 indoor meet, pushing the Razorbacks to their 12th-consecutive conference victory across cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field.

Johnson claimed his 10th USTFCCCA Assistant Coach of the Year award following the Razorbacks’ performance at the SEC Championships where his athletes went 1-2-3-4 in the heptathlon by Taliyah Brooks, Payton Stumbaugh, Leigha Brown, and Kelsey Herman, to add 29 points to Arkansas’ total and vault to a top-4 national ranking. All four athletes set personal records during that event, while Brooks set an Arkansas record with 6,099 points.

The 2017 season saw Johnson’s student-athletes produce top performances at both the indoor and outdoor SEC Championships, assisting in Arkansas’ efforts to secure their fourth triple crown.

The sprint and hurdle coach for the Razorbacks began his Arkansas career by coaching his student-athletes to four All-America honors, a national championship in the 4 x 400 relay outdoors and a pair of top 10 team finishes at the NCAA Championships.

2015 saw Johnson transition senior Chrishuna Williams from a sprinter to one of the best 800-meter runners in the country. In her first year competing in the event, Williams won a conference championship, broke the school record with 2:01.61 (Payton Jordan Invitational) and posted two top-five performances at the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships.

Over the year, Johnson produced seven All-Americans, four SEC champions (400m, 800m, 4-x-400m), and two NCAA runner-up performances. The two silver medals from Ellis-Watson (400m) and the 4-×-400-meter relay team and a top-five finish from Williams (800m) aided in the Razorbacks winning the program’s first national title at the 2015 NCAA Indoor Championships.

Carrying the momentum into the next year, Johnson’s group became even more formidable, leading Arkansas to two more conference titles, a fourth program triple crown, and its first outdoor national title. Along the way to collecting multiple program accolades, Johnson was instrumental in guiding Ellis-Watson to two more SEC gold medals and four additional NCAA silvers. At the NCAA indoor meet his pentathlete trio became the first in the history of the NCAA to all medal in the same championship meet, scoring points which led to a national runner-up team finish.

Fresh off the NCAA outdoor championship meet Johnson coached several Razorbacks to Olympic Trial bids with Ellis-Watson and Williams earning spots on the U.S. national team in the 4-x-400 and 800, respectively. Following through with their development Johnson journeyed to Rio with the pair, training the duo right up until their respective races — Ellis-Watson collecting an Olympic gold for her efforts.

Johnson’s first year in the Ozarks was familiar to him as he spent two years as a graduate assistant with the Razorbacks in 2003 and 2004. During that time Arkansas won two Southeastern Conference titles and was a mainstay at the top of the leaderboard at both the SEC and NCAA Championships.

Johnson had a hand in the development of multi-time Olympic gold medalist Veronica Brown-Campbell and NCAA Outdoor Champion and future U.S. Olympic Relay consideration LaShaunte’a Moore.

Johnson guided the Nittany Lions to 36 Big Ten titles and more than 50 All-American Honors and was named the USTFCCCA assistant coach of the year seven times during his stay in State College, Penn. Johnson’s student-athletes played a pivotal role in Penn State women’s fourth-place team finish at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships.