Burke High student becomes an All-American in track

“It’s more than just a sport. It’s definitely a love-hate relationship. But mostly love. I love what I do.”
Omaha Burke High School has another reason to be proud of the new school year.
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 5:55 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha Burke High School will have another reason to be proud of the new school year.

A fellow student hit the national stage at the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships.

Through the heat and 100-degree days this summer, Zakeriah Johnson was on the Omaha North High School track four days a week preparing to be an All-American.

“It’s more than just a title. It’s like I’ve proved to myself and my peers that, ‘Hey I did it, and I got here. And I made it this way for myself,’” said Zakeirah, Burke junior.

An All-American is someone who makes it to the finals – placing top eighth among 50 other qualified athletes that ran at Nationals. That title has its own definition for Zakeirah.

“You made it here, and you are the best of the best.”

Alongside her at the championships and throughout her training was her club track coach, Shunta Paul.

“When she left in 2019, she was hungry for it. She always wanted it. We did take a young lady out there [in 2019] that did place for Apollo, so I think Z wanted a taste of that. And she was able to execute this year,” said Paul, head coach at Apollo Track Club.

Zakeirah placed fourth in the 100-meter dash, 17-18-year-old division. At 16, she was one of the youngest competitors that made it to the finals.

“For this year, I’m at the bottom of my age group, whereas all the other girls I was running with were juniors and seniors, some of them were committed [to college] already. It’s fun for me. It makes it fun, gives me more of a reason to go out there and be like, “Oh they’re older than me. Let me go out there and try to beat them.’ I’m the youngest one out there, so let me just do what I can do.”

In the finals, she ran a 12.25. Nursing a hip injury, it wasn’t her record time of the season. But she still ran with the best of them.

Regardless of times, she can now call herself an All-American, a goal she’s had since she was little. And now she’s back to business on the track of Omaha North High School.

“I love feeling the wind in my face. I like the hot meets. I like the cold meets. It’s more than just a sport. It’s definitely a love-hate relationship. But mostly love. I love what I do.”

Zakeirah’s next goal is to earn a scholarship to run track in college and continue her passion for running.

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