The lone runner; Jorgensen reps Cougars in Seattle


Jesse Jorgensen (center) runs during practice, Tuesday, March 11.

Saying “it’s just another race” would be the understatement of a lifetime. However, that’s the attitude of redshirt junior Jesse Jorgensen, the lone WSU athlete heading to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., today.

He qualified for the event in thrilling fashion in the 800-meter final earlier this month at the Mountain Pacific Sport Federation Indoor Championships in Seattle.

“It started really fast because we had a rabbit,” said Jorgensen, a middle distance runner. “With like 350 meters to go I passed Boru (Guyota) from Oregon, and then with about 250 left I passed another Oregon runner and that put me in the lead.”

Jorgensen won the race by setting a personal record of 1:48.84. UCLA sophomore Nick Hartle finished just two-hundredths of a second behind Jorgensen.

“(Hartle) kind of caught up at the end, and I could tell because everyone in the crowd was going crazy,” he said. “The atmosphere was really exciting. Everyone was cheering, so it had to be a pretty exciting finish.”

In order to qualify for the NCAA Championships, Jorgensen needed an 800-meter time in the top 16 of all Division I competitors. His PR was the 16th best time, and three other runners were less than three-hundredths of a second behind him.

 “It’s exciting, it’s something to feel good about, but I do kind of feel bad I’ll be the only one there,” he said.

Coming in as the 16th ranked runner, Jorgensen is setting realistic expectations for the event. He hopes to just finish in the top three of his eight-person semifinal heat on Friday, which would allow him to race on Saturday in the finals.

A 4A Washington State champion in the 800-meter race his sophomore year at Puyallup High School, Jorgensen has performed in pressure-packed situations before. However, he acknowledged how big of an opportunity the NCAA Championships will be.

“I bet it will be really exciting because it’s the biggest meet I’ve ever been to,” Jorgensen said. “But I’m just keeping my training the same, preparing like I would for any other race.”

The indoor track and field season goes from January to March and makes up the first half of the team’s full season.

Jorgensen said he hopes to carry the momentum from his successful indoor season to the outdoor track.

“It should definitely lead to another (personal record) because you get faster as the season goes on, and outdoor is always when I run my fastest,” he said.

Because the season’s top 24 runners qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, Jorgensen said he has a good chance of making it to that event as well.