Southern Regional’s Jackson Braddock Finishes 29th in the Country at Nike Cross Nationals

By David Biggy | Dec 11, 2019
Photo by: John Nepolitan/ Southern Regional junior Jackson Braddock runs through the course at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Ore., during the Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 7.

Southern Ocean County, NJ — Back in September, Jackson Braddock’s mind was nowhere near thinking about the Nike Cross National Championships in Portland, Ore. Once he returned home Sunday evening, the reality of what had happened during the past month of the cross-country season finally set in.

“In September, I was just hoping to stay healthy and maybe get to the state Meet of Champions,” said Braddock, who finished 29th in a field of 204 runners on Dec. 7. “But this season turned out pretty well. This definitely motivates me to stay healthy, and I’m hoping to have more success as the year goes on. The goal definitely is to make it back to Nationals next year.”

Despite rainy, windy and muddy conditions, the Southern Regional junior, who had qualified for the race during the previous Saturday’s Northeast Regional, completed the course at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland with a time of 15 minutes, 37.7, right behind Southeast qualifier Graham Blanks (15:37.3) and a half-second ahead of Northeast qualifier Samuel Otis (15:38.2).

“It was rainy and windy and I was covered in mud, head to toe. It was fun,” Braddock said. “Up against 200 of the best runners in the country, I knew it was going to be a tough race. But I wanted to get up there with the top guys to see what I could do and give myself a chance to try to be an All-American.

“It was a bit weird not being near the lead at the start, but I stayed patient and was able to move up throughout the race. There were a lot of rolling hills, tiny climbs and long downhills. It was the most interesting course I’ve run on. The mud was a big factor, but I hung in there pretty good.”

California state champion Nico Young won the race in 14:52.3, nearly 14 seconds ahead of Midwest qualifier Josh Methner, and Braddock didn’t manage to make the top 21, which would have given him an All-American position – Southwest qualifier Anthony Grover finished 4.8 seconds ahead of Braddock – but the experience was worth the trip.

“I wanted to get as close to the top 21 as I could,” said Braddock, New Jersey’s third-highest finisher and third among 11th-graders. “But I’m happy with how I ran. It was an amazing experience just to be there. Nike put on a great event, and it was a fun few days out there. The biggest thing was getting the experience for next year. If I stay healthy, I’m pretty confident I can get back to Nationals. That’s definitely the goal now.”

For the next couple of weeks, Braddock will get some much needed rest and recovery before taking on the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs during the indoor track season. But he already knows the winter season is not going to be a tuneup for the spring, as it is for many track and field athletes.

“When I get back from my rest period, I’m going to look to compete and win as many races as possible,” he said. “But I won’t need to put up great times right away. The times will come.”

— David Biggy

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