Leading the pack


Athletes of the Month

October 3, 2019 - 10:02 AM

Jack Adams competes at the Doc Stiles Invitational on Sept. 24. REGISTER/ERICK MITCHELL

Some say, ?If you?re not first, you?re last.? 

That quote could define Iola High?s Jack Adams. This season, the Mustangs? number-one cross country runner has finished first individually in three of five meets. Most recently, Adams placed 12th and medaled at the Rim Rock meet on Saturday in Lawrence. 

In seventh grade Adams had to decide whether to play football or run cross country under head coach Marv Smith. Safe to say, he made the right decision. Adams has been the Mustangs? number-one runner since he was a freshman.

?I?ve had family that ran cross country,? Adams said. ?My friends Nathan and Riley were going to run, so I figured why not.? 

Adams realized he had a future in the sport when he finished second in a league meet during his seventh-grade year. 

Adams said the biggest plus to running cross country are the close-knit relationships the sport brings. Where some sports create bickering amongst athletes, Adams describes the cross country team as one big family. 

?We all tell each other everything,? Adams said. ?From the seniors to the seventh-graders, we all have a great relationship with one another. We trust each other, and have always felt like we are a big family. You never see someone yell at another athlete.?

In practice, Coach Smith has different tempos he uses to pace his runners over the course of a workout. A beginning tempo is called the old man jog, where runners take it nice and slow. The next pace is conversational, a tempo where runners are able to run and keep a conversation going. The next two increasingly fast paces are steady-and-ready and race ready.

The incremental paces seem to have little effect on Adams. He?s always in race-ready mode. 

?Jack is motivated, so he has no problem on getting better and better,? Smith said. ?There?s people out there who he knows he wants to beat. And those runners are equal in speed with Jack, but if it comes down to the end, he has good speed and will probably beat them.?

Jack Adams in the commons area at Iola High. REGISTER/ERICK MITCHELL

Cross Country is a team sport, but there?s also a key individual aspect. Adams always has the mindset to do his part for the team by finishing first. 

Of course, it doesn?t always happen.

At the Doc Stiles Invitational, Adams came in second to a runner from Pittsburg. 

Adams was never able to overtake the runner who had pulled ahead early. 

Those types of races keep Adams striving to improve himself daily. 

?I like competing a lot,? Adams said. ?Even in practice I don?t like people beating me. I know I?m better than the average runner, so I don?t like it when others finish ahead of me.?

Adams said that over the summer he put in a lot of effort preparing for the cross country season, including working out with Ted Noble, who has years of experience in the sport. Most of the summer, Adams ran on the track along with some speed work on hills. 

Although training was a key component to his summer, Adams also traveled to Kenya to assist less fortunate families through a program with Iola?s Rotary club, of which his grandfather, Bob Hawk, is a member. Adams said he distributed water filters to local schools, and bought chicks that were given to 20 local families.