Jack Ikenberry has quickly made a name for himself not only at Lee-Davis but in the entire state. After already having posted an impressive 16:38, he has positioned himself to be one of the best underclassmen in Virginia. Those accolades and his amazing potential are why he was chosen to be Virginia's Hoka OneOne Future XC Star.
First congratulations Jack on being one of the top ranked freshman in the entire state of Virginia. How does it feel as an athlete and freshman to enter your high school running career on such a high note?
It is definitely different. It it greata but it does not really matter to me if I am one of the top freshman or not, I am going for a team title this year at states with my teammates.
Obviously you are one of the fastest runners on your team and usually the faster runners become leaders, how much of a leader are you for your team even though you are a freshman?
With my running I try and lead by example whenever I can. Though I lead by example in the workouts and running, the seniors and those who have been around from a while really do the leading by talking. Though I have been with the team for a year now. I joined them when I was in 8th grade as part of their JV team. I practiced with them a lot so I am pretty used to being a part of the team at this point.
What has the adjustment from middle school to high school been like both with the competition and distances you race?
It has been different. There are many more racers and a lot more talented runners at every meet you go to. Last year, I was much more of a front runner leading the way in a race but now I am more of a middle of the pack runner. I try and start out well in the top 50 and work my way up throughout the race. In my mindset it really matters after the first mile, that is when the real race happens.
Like you previously said, you have been running in some high school races for a year now. One of those races, arguably your best race, was at the MileStat.com XC Invitational last year at Pole Green. You won the Boys JV II race in an impressive 17:00 as an 8th grader. How did that feel?
It felt great. It was a really good time for me but unfortunately I got injured the last 800 meters of race. I got a stress fracture but it healed fully last winter. So since I got injured it was good and bad that race.
Do you have a favorite course?
Yes! Pole Green. I get to race there a lot and it mainly my favorite because our team does workouts there, I run there, and also I get to race there a lot. I know the course like the back of my hand. It has a great start that is very flat -I like to get out good the first mile and then make my move- then a couple good hills in there too but I have gotten used to them. I have had a great experience running there.
I love having my best and biggest races there.
What are some of your goals for this season?
This season, I going to try to run under 16:20 and help my team get a state title (VHSL Group 5A). Once one of our top guys gets back from injuries we should be pretty good. I am not sure about post season meets like Footlocker yet but it depends on how I feel and run at conferences and regionals.
What are some of your more long term goals for your high school career?
I have not really thought too much about that. I am more trying to take it year by year. Next year I may shoot for sub 16 and try and ultimately keep improving throughout my high school career. I am going to run indoor and outdoor this year but cross country is really my main focus. Cross Country is the hardest sport out there in my mind and really about the competition and placing and I enjoy it a lot.
How are you and your coaches working to build towards those long term goals and sustained success?
It starts with working hard everyday since everyday has a purpose. Also rest is key, you have to get a lot of rest as a runner. We have meetings with the coaches about some of our short term goals and also long term goals as well. We try and work everyday to achieve them or work towards achieving them.
Do you have a favorite workout?
I would have to say 800 or Mile repeats are my favorites. Definitely on a cross country course opposed to a track for those repeats though. If they are on a track it could get a little boring.
Is there any runner that you would like to be like?
Yes. I would like to be as good as Matthew Novak. He ran 15:30 as a junior andI would like to try and do that by the time I am done with my junior year. He is also very good at track as well. When I race him I try and tell myself to push myself so that one day I can be that good.