Jackson off to hot start after disappointing season
Sept. 30, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
By ANDREW LANG -- THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
Last year, junior WWU cross country runner Chip Jackson planned on making Western's seven-man nationals lineup as one of the Vikings' top five runners.
He had good reason to believe he could.
Jackson ran at nationals two years ago as a freshman, but his determination to improve ultimately was his undoing.
Following a strong freshman season competing in cross country and track, Jackson said he overworked himself while working as a landscaper during the summer. His body never fully recovered in time for his sophomore season.
"I spent all summer doing hard manual labor as a landscaper," Jackson said in a phone interview. "I was still putting in hours training, and I wasn't recovering working nine hours on my feet. It was a learning experience for me."
Western coach Pee Wee Halsell said one of Jackson's strongest attributes is his work ethic. He also said one of the largest adjustments for younger collegiate runners is learning how to train properly.
"I always thought it was all about working as hard as you can and everything will work out," Jackson said. "Turns out, with running, you have to let your body recover."
It was a bitter lesson to learn.
He took a different approach preparing for this season. Jackson still trains hard. He just does it while being conscious of his body now.
"Last year was a bit of a surprise," Halsell said of Jackson's season in a phone interview. "He didn't do as well for whatever reason. He is looking really good now - the best he's looked in the years he's been here."
Jackson has proved Halsell's words with his results.
The junior ran a brilliant race Saturday, Sept. 15, to win the 21st Annual University of Washington Sundodger Cross Country Invitational at Lincoln Park in Seattle.
Jackson topped the 236-runner field, navigating the eight kilometer course in a time of 24 minutes, 55 seconds.
"It's always been one of my favorite events," Jackson said. "It's a fast course, and it's always good competition. I knew since I was in the open race, I had a shot at winning it. I just went out and tried to put myself in position to win."
At the one-mile mark, Jackson was 15 to 20 runners off the lead. Slowly, Jackson passed each runner and beat Northwest Nazarene University's Jesse Baggenstos by three seconds.
The finish was a perfect way to put last year's disappointing season in the past.
"After my sophomore season last year, (my win) was kind of a surprise for maybe a lot of people who've counted me out in cross country and think of me as more of a short distance guy," Jackson said. "It was just a good opening race, and it helped me build confidence for longer races I wasn't successful in last year."
Shortly after the race, Jackson was selected Great Northwest Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week.
Jackson's win was also encouraging for Halsell, who's witnessed his junior's hard work during training sessions.
"I was really excited to see him win," Halsell said. "I knew he'd be up there just from workouts. To see him (win) was really good."
Halsell said he now sees tremendous consistency in Jackson's workouts, which Halsell believes has helped Jackson stay healthy.
"It's paying dividends," he said.
"I think both of them knew not to over do it," Jackson said. "A lot of times in workouts, it will get competitive and it's tempting to run workouts like it's a race, but I think Nick and Eric were always making sure to not race through workouts. That's one thing that really rubbed off on me."
With Jackson healthy, he figures to be an important piece to Western's success this season. He also set a lofty goal for himself.
"My goal is to get All-American at nationals and just stay healthy," Jackson said. "The fitness is there, and each week I feel a bit stronger. It's a long season, and it's easy to get carried away and hurt yourself. You don't want to peak too early, but you have to stay strong."
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