Otay Ranch senior earns rowing scholarship to USC

Neighborhood All-Stars

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – Otay Ranch High School Senior Dilan Johnson is a three-sport varsity athlete who played water polo, ran cross country, and track before finally settling in on a passion for rowing. 

Johnson joined the varsity San Diego Row Club team her sophomore year and by the time her junior year rolled around, she was promoted to lead Coxswain on a team of 8.

“If you ever see a rowing race where you have the big boat and there’s of course the tall 6’5″, 6’6″ guys that are 200 pounds plus and then you see the really short person,” said Johnson. “That’s me.”

Johnson is one of two girls on the boys’ team.

“It’s actually a really fun role because I walk around my teammates and they’re all towering over me and they like to tease me,” said Johnson. “But at the end of the day, they have to listen to me and I’m the one who’s sitting up tall, telling them what to do.”

Johnson added that her most important role is on race day when she is executing the team’s race plan.

“It takes a really special personality to be able to jump in to that role, jump into that seat, and command a group,” said Peter Simeone, the San Diego Row Club’s varsity coach. “She’s been doing a fantastic job of that.”

Johnson is scheduled to graduate salutatorian of her class this spring and has earned a scholarship with the USC women’s rowing team.

“Being able to go to a school like USC and pursue engineering while also being a Division I athlete is something that’s amazing and I’m so grateful for,” said Johnson.

In addition to the opportunities the sport has opened up for Johnson, she is thankful for the lifelong friends she’s made.

“I would have never met any of these people before,” said Johnson. “Just the friends I made are friends I’ll keep for the rest of my life.”


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