As a distance runner on the Slippery Rock University cross country and track and field team, I’ve gotten to know many teammates, but getting to know Kevin Jewel has been a great pleasure of mine. In addition to his great athletic accomplishments, he’s been a great teammate and friend to many.
Last weekend at the Ashland Alumni Open, he continued his consistent success by breaking his own school record in the 800-meter dash with a time of 1:49.82, automatically qualifying for the NCAA Division II National Championships in Pueblo, Colo.
He set the previous record earlier this season, running a time of 1:49.86 at the Raleigh Relays, breaking under 1:50 for the first time.
His time is currently the best in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and fourth in the nation among D II runners.
“Breaking 1:50 feels awesome!” Jewel exclaimed. “For the longest time, I have just considered myself an average runner, but now I think I can finally call myself a good runner. Not many 800 runners can say they’ve broken 1:50, but it’s a great feeling.”
As Jewel prepares to wrap up his senior year of track at the upcoming PSAC and national meets, he’s reflected on his outstanding athletic career and accomplishments, as well as the memories he’ll leave behind.
During Jewel’s freshman indoor season, he finished fourth place in the 800-meter run at the Indoor Championships and earned All-PSAC honors after a first-place finish in the 4x800m relay with SRU Rock alumni Phil Rector, Jason Jamieson, and Dan Henry.
During the outdoor season that spring, he won the PSAC title in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:52.23.
In his sophomore indoor season, Jewel placed second in the 800m at the Indoor PSAC Championships with a time of 1:54.80, and he also helped lead the 4x400m and 4x800m relay teams to third and second place finishes, respectively.
Jewel said his proudest moment was definitely winning the 800-meters at the PSAC meet, held at SRU during the spring of his sophomore year.
“My sophomore year’s PSAC championship was a big deal because it was held here at Slippery Rock, and I wanted to defend the turf, and I did,” Jewel said.
Jewel also qualified for the NCAA Division II Championships that year, where he placed 15th with a time of 1:56.02.
During his junior year on the track team, he finished sixth at the indoor conference championships and helped set the SRU school record in the 4×400 meter relay with a time of 3:18.82.
During the outdoor season, Jewel earned All-PSAC honors with a second place finish in the 800-meter dash with a time of 1:52.04.
“It feels great to be where I am now,” Jewel said. “It feels like I can’t mess up, because no matter what happens, I still ran 1:49, broke the school record, and qualified for nationals. It’s so crazy, and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet.”
Everyone flocks to the track to see Jewel run, because he makes every race exciting to watch, head coach John Papa commented.
“Kevin’s racing is very exciting. The 800 is an exciting event to begin with, but he adds that extra flare by his fast finishes and his winning mentality and attitude,” Papa said. “It’s fun for the coaches and the athletes to watch him race.”
Reflecting on the memories I have with Jewel go back to the first week of my freshman year of cross country.
With a fake Aussie accent and convincing stories, Kevin tricked me into thinking he was from Australia. I believed him for months and I was so embarrassed when I found out it was all just a joke.
On long bus rides to track meets, I’d hang onto every word of his silly 10 minute jokes. His lighthearted sense of humor chased away my pre-race jitters, and I’ll definitely miss that.
Sophomore Jaron Martin agrees, and said Jewel is the kind of friend everyone wants.
“Kevin is undoubtedly one of the best athletes on the track team and not only that, but he’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had,” Martin said. “With his hard-working attitude and his friendly spirit, he is a great role model for myself and any other athlete who wishes to reach their full potential.”
Junior Joe Hickey, Jewel’s teammate and future-roommate, admires Jewel for his leadership.
“Kevin’s a dedicated athlete and most of all, a reliable friend,” Hickey said. “He’s always at practice and always looking for different ways to improve. I know if I ever need someone to talk to, I can always turn to him.”
Jewel will definitely be missed next year, Papa said.
“He’s provided a great deal of leadership to the other mid-distance runners,” Papa said. “He helps motivate and makes sure all the runner know what to do. He lets them know how fast they should run and he does a great job of building a team atmosphere.”
“He’ll be out of NCAA eligibility in the fall, but we’ll have to ask him to become one of our student coaches for the men’s and women’s 800.”
Jewel plans to graduate next May with a degree in health and physical education.
“I want to work with elementary school kids because they’re silly, goofy, and have tons of energy, kind of like me,” Jewel joked. “I have a lot of patience so I think elementary school kids would be perfect for me to work with.”
Jewel is an inspirational, hard-working athlete, on and off the track, and I’m happy and proud of him for all of his successes.