2021 MHS senior Isaac Johnson is The Valley Express feature athlete for the Bulldogs’ track team. Isaac is the son of Ken Johnson and Kay O’Farrell.
Isaac, like many MHS athletes, started his track and field experience in middle school. “I tried out track in seventh and eighth grade,” he says, “but then I took a break.” He did not compete again until he rejoined the team as a senior. “I realized it was going to be my last opportunity. So, I came back out for the team.”
He followed the same pattern with the Bulldogs’ cross country team. “I did a couple 5K street races when I was younger, but that’s about it. My mom ran in some of those races, and she thought it would be good for me. So, I tried those, too, and they were cool. I’ve always been friends with Nick Batchelor, and the other friends I made in cross country made me want to be with them and run with the team again.”
He says. “I enjoyed both the meets and practices, but lean towards practices as my favorite. That’s when we did more bonding.” He also favors cross country a bit more than track. “It’s just we were so close as a team.”
Isaac’s best memory was at the Valley Queen meet, where he earned his personal best time in the mile. He also tried a new event by running the 800 leg in the medley relay. “I recognized all the people working at the meet from Valley Queen. So, that was fun. I had a few more conversations on the side because of that.” He says the state cross country meet in Rapid City this year was also a big highlight. “That was a ton of fun.”
Isaac is proud to be a Milbank Bulldog. “It meant a lot to have school spirit and be with a group of people who pushed you to be your best every day.” He and Dustin Gertsema, were the only seniors on the team this year. “It meant a lot to be a leader of the group and help everyone do what they should be doing to stay on track. I’ve always liked being a leader.”
He says his biggest challenge was finding a balance between school, work, and activities such as sports. “I’ve always seen the importance of working hard. I was in the work release program this year at school. So, I left school at noon to go to work every day. Not everyone can make that balance between a job and school and then come back and practice.”
Isaac works at Valley Queen Cheese in the quality assurance department and has been there for two years. “I do everything from putting together different systems that come in” he says, “to preparing and maintaining process systems.”
He has also been involved in the trap shooting league, was a member of the Milbank High School Honor Society, and FFA. Outside of school, he is big into hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling.
Isaac plans to attend South Dakota State University for civil engineering and return to Valley Queen or possibly gain employment at Banner Associates after graduation. He says, “I plan to come back to Milbank and live here.”