The Rocket’s October athlete of the month, senior Jeremy Parsons, is gearing up for his second race at the Division II cross-country National Championships, which will be held in Saint Leo, Fla.
The Titusville native had a breakout performance at nationals last year, capturing All-American honors and posting a 30:14 time of the 10,000 km (6.2 miles) course in Joplin, Mo.
“Now I know how fast it goes out and where to be off the start. Hopefully, that gets me a good position to place higher this year,” Parsons said of his experience at the National Championships last year.
“It’s been a while since we’ve seen someone as special as Jeremy,” Rock head coach John Papa said.
Papa’s high praise for Parsons is especially meaningful as Papa has seen 30 years of runners at Slippery Rock, but few who have performed as well as Parsons.
Both Papa and Parsons commented on how the National race is a different beast than any other.
“The front pack is usually five to 10 guys, now it will be 30 or 4o,” Papa said. “The quality of the race is significantly better. There are a lot of very good runners.”
Parsons echoed what Papa said about the large groupings.
“With someone always being by your side in the race, that will typically push people a little harder.”
Parsons’ top-25 finish was a huge point in his career, and Papa thinks he can elevate even further past that point.
“He wants to be in the top 25 like he was last year. He will have to run extremely well to do that. We’re hoping he runs extremely well. He is physically ready, he has been feeling well the past three or four weeks and workouts have been good. He is feeling confident that he should be good to go.”
Parsons was open about his preparations for his season finale.
“I’ve been trying to get enough rest this week, if I was feeling sore I either took the day off or took it easier. Whatever needed to be done should have already been done, so this week is just rest.”
This Saturday will conclude the cross-country season, as Parsons and the rest of the distance runners will rest before indoor track and field starts in December.