Taryn Johnson is trading Sequim purple and gold for … Minnesota purple and gold.
The Wolves’ all-time leading scorer who saw her prep career come to a close on Nov. 8 opened a whole new chapter the same day, signing a letter of intent to play for NCAA Division II powerhouse Minnesota State University, Mankato.
“They were really welcoming; they showed a big interest in me,” Johnson said last week at the Sequim High School library, moments after signing her letter in front of family, friends and coaches.
“It just clicked.”
It didn’t take long for Johnson and teammates to click. In her freshman season, a COVID-shortened schedule limited the Wolves to nine games. She netted her first in a 2-0 win over Olympic on Feb. 24, 2021, and another less than a month later against the Trojans.
In her sophomore campaign later that year, the floodgates opened. Johnson nettled the nets for 24 goals, including six hat tricks, for an 11-6 squad that earned a district berth.
As a junior in 2022, the 9-7 Wolves earned another district berth and Johnson tallied 25 goals, including a pair of five-goal games.
As the topper, Johnson paced an SHS offense this fall that went 11-3 in Olympic League play and 13-5 overall, earning a 10-seed to the class 2A state playoffs before bowing out to No. 7-seeded Ridgefield.
The Sequim High senior drove home 28 goals this fall — including a five-goal game against North Mason on Sept. 12, and a six-goal game one week later against Olympic — pushing her career total to 79.
Not just a scoring machine, Johnson has more than 20 career assists, including a four-assist game in early October against North Mason.
Minnesota State isn’t just any four-year school. The Mavericks are ranked No. 20 at the NCAA Division II level with an 11-3-5 record.
Minnesota State and St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minn., both got on her radar with a big contingent of relatives on her father Travis Johnson’s side of the family, with more than 20 second cousins and aunts and uncles and the like.
Having relatives close makes the distance from Sequim not so bad, she said. Johnson said she’s initially looking at an exercise science major, with a career in the athletics field.
Johnson said her favorite part about playing with her soccer club teams was all the travel, and seeing different parts of the country.
And in high school? Probably the games against Port Angeles. In her four years, Port Angeles had the edge in five of their eight match-ups, but Sequim knocked off the Roughriders in both of Johnson’s seniors season games. And the games were super close: six of those contests were one-score decisions.
“Those were fun rivalry games,” she said.
When Johnson was a freshman, she played against Port Angeles’ Millie Long — a big scoring star for the Roughriders who showed that her skills could translate to the college game with a wildly successful career at Peninsula College, and then four goals in her second game for Division II Cal Poly-Humboldt.
Johnson said she continues to look at Long as an example of how to succeed from small towns to the college level.
“I definitely looked up to Millie; she was such a good competitor,” Johnson said. “I hope some of the girls here look at me the way I looked at her.”
Sequim head coach Ken Garling said Johnson — also a standout basketball player, student council leader and this year’s Homecoming queen — has speed and ability, but that isn’t what makes her so different from the other players.