Lady Rocket senior Jaedyn Stalnecker didn’t always run cross country.In fact, it started as a conditioning element for other sports she played at Forrest High School.But after diving into the …
Lady Rocket senior Jaedyn Stalnecker didn’t always run cross country.
In fact, it started as a conditioning element for other sports she played at Forrest High School.
But after diving into the sport and finding her niche within distance running, Stalnecker found a passion within running and not just competed at a high level, but took her abilities and ran with them—literally.
She recently signed her letter of intent to continue her running career at Austin Peay State University.
“I’m excited to be part of a club and program that is big and just exciting to be part of a school that wants me,” she said.
“Originally, I was doing soccer and the coach said to do it for conditioning. So I started doing track and kept doing it and fell in love with the sport.”
Distance running separates itself from most traditional team sports and puts a heavy emphasis on the individual effort and work ethic.
With neither being in short supply for Stalnecker, she continually showed improvements throughout her time running and earned four trips to the TSSAA state cross country meet, including a third-place finish in the DI Small Class meet her sophomore year.
“Because it’s an individual sport, it’s was fun and something I could do on my own. I just took it and ran with it,” she said.
Throughout all her races, Stalnecker improved her personal best 5K time to 19:05, but will compete in some longer races of 6K and 10K distances, in addition to 5Ks at the college level.
Stalnecker says she’s looking forward to the new challenge of running races of different lengths against top-end competition.
“I’m definitely looking forward to doing 6Ks and 10Ks,” she said.
There were other schools in the mix when it came to choosing a college to attend for the next four years, but in the end, the closeness of Austin Peay, as well as the perfect fit within the cross country team ended up being her collegiate choice.
“I looked into Troy in Alabama, but really liked how close Austin Peay was. I’ll be able to come back home and come back to Chapel Hill. I really like the aspect of it being close,” she said.
Meeting several of the student-athletes and teachers on campus also played a role in helping her make her college pick.
“I got to see a bunch of the students there and got to meet a bunch of the other runners. I’m really excited to be there,” she said.
While running inherently brings its own challenges as an individual sport, being able to specifically pinpoint improvements to your own dedication and work was perhaps her best memory in looking at her running career.
“I think just the journey from start to finish. I would train alone a lot and seeing that my hard work could get me to a DI school was amazing,” she said.
For now, the focus is on finishing her senior year out on a high note and gearing up with summer workouts in preparation for her freshman season this fall.
She will report to campus in August and plans on studying business.
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