McHenry native, Illini cross-country star starts season on learning curve
Jesse Reiser has a lot of good experiences to draw from in his running career.
This year, though, he's drawing positives from an event that didn't go his way, Reiser said.
In his first cross-country race this season for the University of Illinois, the McHenry native finished 30th out of more than 260 runners at the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 24 at the University of Minnesota. Many runners would take that finish. However, it was a learning moment for last year's Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year.
“Since it was my first race, and it was on a very muddy course, I know what I need to do next race, and I have a better understanding of running that course, which is very beneficial for us since (Big Ten Championships are) being hosted there this year,” Reiser told the McHenry Times.
Reiser, a multiple-time state champion and All-American in his high school career at McHenry West, carried his prep excellence over to his first year of college competition.
According to FightingIllini.com, Reiser posted the seventh-best 8K time in school history when he finished in 23 minutes, 58 seconds at the Big Ten Championships as Illinois finished second as a team. Then, at the NCAA Midwest Regionals, Reiser was 22nd in the 10K race in a time of 30:34.6. The Illini finished 10th as a team in that meet.
Reiser said he had a lot of growth in his freshman year as he handled training and school work.
“The training aspect went really well for the most part because I adjusted pretty well, I think, to handling the intensity of the work compared to how it was in high school,” Reiser said.
During his first track seasons, he won the indoor 3,000-meter run as an unattached competitor at the Orange and Blue Open, and was 12th in the 1,500 run at the outdoor Big Ten Championships.
“My freshman track season may not have gone the way I wanted, but with my training getting derailed with sickness and injuries, I still believe I gained a lot from the season,” Reiser said.
Reiser had his mileage bumped up during his summer workouts this year, which has helped him improve his strength over last year. Reiser said he's handling racing and working out better this season because of that.
Reiser said he's seen an improvement in his approach to racing since arriving at Illinois.
“In college, with the races being a lot longer, you need to have a better understanding of how to race, and compared to when I was in high school, I think my intelligence on the track/course have been a lot better,” Reiser said.
While Reiser said he'd like to improve his late-race composure and “be the best possible teammate I can be for my team,” he has some definite end-of-season goals in mind as well.
“Last year, we came up short in making nationals for cross country as a team, so definitely making the National Championships as a team and being an All-American would be a great way to end the season,” Reiser said.
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