Nov. 12, 2021 — When Viking cross country/track and field coach Chris Johnson celebrated his double state championship victories at Lane Community College on Nov. 10, his focus was on just two things, leading his two cross country teams to the top of the 4A pack. He accomplished both those goals. At the same time, he solidified his spot on the short list of the greatest coaches, of any sport, in Oregon high school sports history.
The two titles bring Johnson’s total to 16 state championships won as a head coach of an OSAA sanctioned sport. Those 16 titles include nine for girls cross country, six for boys cross country and one for boys track and field — and doesn’t include the championship he won as an assistant for the Siuslaw track team.
The two wins on Saturday give Johnson sole possession of the No. 4 spot on the list of all-time victories for an Oregon high school head coach.
“I don’t like to put a bunch of pressure on kids by keeping track of numbers like these,” said Johnson. “I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t on my mind though recently, because people keep bringing it up.”
Before the state meet, Johnson shared the No. 4 spot with three other coaches: Steve Sheehy of Union, Bob Latham of Bend and Ron Smith of Henley and Lost River, all three of which have 14 titles and are also cross country and/or track and field coaches like Johnson.
With one more state title, Johnson will move into a three-way tie for second most of all time. The number one spot will be a bit harder to reach. That spot is held by current Jesuit coach Tom Rothenberger, who has an amazing 26 state titles in his long and storied career; 14 for girls cross country, six for boys cross country and three each for boys and girls track and field.
With all the young talent that can be found on the trail and track for Siuslaw, it is only a matter of time before Johnson’s remarkable total gets even larger.
All-time State Titles — Oregon Head Coach
Name, schools coached at, total titles
1. Tom Rothenberger — Jesuit 26*
2(t). Don Jacklin — Reedsport/David Douglas 17
2(t). Dave Turnbull — Summit 17*
4. Chris Johnson — Siuslaw 16*
5(t). Bob Latham — Bend 14
5(t). Ron Smith — Henley/Lost River 14
5(t). Steve Sheehy — Union/Cove/North Powder 14*
8(t). Harry Johnson — South Eugene 13
8(t). Jerry Dilley — Lowell 13
10. Brian Grant — Catlin Gabel 12