Former Oklahoma Christian University standout Sam Johnston was named to the Heartland Conference’s 20th Anniversary Men’s Golf Team Saturday, April 13.
With the NCAA Division II Heartland Conference dissolving after the conclusion of this athletic year, the conference associates are recognizing specific individuals by orchestrating all-time conference teams for each sport.
The league acknowledged 10 players for men’s golf. Johnson, a 2016 graduate, was the only athlete to be honored who did not attend either St. Edward’s University or St. Mary’s University.
To be considered, players must have been named as Heartland Player of the Year and received All-American honors at least once, or received multiple All-American honors while playing for a full Heartland member. The list includes Heartland record holders, All-American honorees and Heartland individual award winners.
Johnston, from San Diego, CA, represented one of only two golfers from the Heartland to ever earn NCAA Division II All-American honors three times. He made the second-team list in both 2013 and 2014 and the third-team list in 2016. Johnston won the Division II South Central-West Super Region title and carried the Eagles in qualifying for the Division II Championship in his 2016 season.
Johnston was the first Oklahoma Christian athlete in any sport to make a Division II All-American team and remains the sole Eagle to receive Division II All-American honors in three separate academic years.
Because the conference denied individual honors to players from schools in the membership process, which included Oklahoma Christian in 2013-14, Johnston would have made his case for Heartland Player of the Year in both 2013 and 2014 prior to officially receiving the honor for his 2015 and 2016 athletic campaigns. He made the All-Heartland first-team list all four seasons and was a National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) All-American in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
During his time at Oklahoma Christian, Johnston won seven tournaments, including the Super Regional, and was named as the Heartland’s Player of the Week nine times and the NCCAA Student-Athlete of the Week eight times. Johnston has his name intertwined with the record books, holding the Heartland’s best single-season stroke average (71.5), lowest single-round score (63) and 54-hole score (197)—both in the U.C. Ferguson Classic at Lincoln Park Golf Club’s West Course in Oklahoma City in 2012. Johnston also holds the crown for most career wins and best career scoring average (72.15).
Sophomore and current Oklahoma Christian golfer Andres Bricston said Johnston was a great role model and someone he aspired to be.
“It was great to play on the same team as Sam,” Brictson said. “I was a freshman when he was a senior, and I always looked up to him because he really knew what he was doing on the course. He is an amazing ball striker, so it was great to watch him hit shots.”
Johnston competed in multiple amateur competitions upon graduating from Oklahoma Christian. In July 2015, he finished 12th overall in the Trans-Mississippi Championship at Flint Hills National Golf Club in Andover, KS, shooting 2-under for the tournament. He was also the runner-up in the Oklahoma Golf Association’s Stroke Play Championship in 2015 at Chickasaw Pointe Golf Club in Kingston, OK.
He later reached the quarterfinals of the Oklahoma State Amateur Championship in 2014 and made it to round 16 in the California Amateur Championship in 2013.
Johnston is accompanied by St. Mary’s Jamie Amoretti (2004-07), Luke Antonelli (2002-04), Emilio Gonzalez (2017-present) and Matt Vela (2008-11), and St. Edward’s Nick Cristea (2003-07), Jose Hernandez (2011-15), Collin Mayer (2006-10), Blake Slaughter (2003-07) and Santiago Quintero (2008-12) on the all-time Heartland squad.