With three years of experience at the varsity level, Maine South cross country runner Jack Carpenter draws inspiration from an unlikely source – his competition. That competitive spirit helped Carpenter’s team place fifth at the state meet last season. Head coach Greg Nordahl also said that the incoming senior holds the second fastest time for Maine South’s course in its 19-year history.
Name: Jack Carpenter
Year in school (incoming): Senior
Hometown: Park Ridge
Sport: Cross country
How long have you run cross country?
I started running in sixth grade, but I didn't commit to it full-time until my freshman year.
What do you love most about cross country?
The feeling you get when you cross the finish line and right away you know you've run a great race. Win or not, it always feels good to know you've run fast and run your best. It's a feeling that I never get tired of.
What are your goals for the upcoming season? How will you achieve them?
I want the team to qualify for state. Individually, I want to be All-State (top 25 at the state meet). Training smart and listening to my coach will make this happen.
How do you motivate yourself to train during the summer?
I train with the end result in mind. As a distance runner, summer is the time when you really put your nose to the grindstone and work hard even though state is months away.
Who has inspired you most in your athletic endeavors?
The competition. Those guys that I compete against every year, those guys that I see multiple times a season really motivate me to keep working. My teammates also serve as a tremendous source of inspiration. Right before race time, it's a real boost to know that you're going to be lining up with six other guys who are going to give it their all for each other. The team camaraderie is really strong.
If you didn’t run cross country, what would you be doing?
I'd be playing soccer. I played up until my freshman year.
What’s the best part about summer in Park Ridge?
Just being able to kick back and relax with my friends. Also the fact that Park Ridge is so close to Chicago is a huge advantage in the summer.
Who is your favorite athlete and why?
Matt Centrowitz (U.S. Olympian, 1500-meter). He has his entire career ahead of him but he's such a savvy runner. His stride is so smooth; he makes it look effortless. He's really fun to watch.
How do you beat the heat during workouts?
I get up at 6:30 to run most days. Staying hydrated is also very important.
Favorite quote or words to live by:
My favorite quote that pertains to my particular sport is, "Run for fun and personal bests” (Al Carius, North Central College). It embodies what is so great about this sport. Anybody can have fun running if they enjoy self-improvement. It's not necessarily about being "the best," it's about being "your best."
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