Taking It In Strides: Kenneth Jackson

Everyone's path to collegiate track and field is different. Some are able to earn a scholarship right out of high school, while others take an alternative route and decide to go to a junior college for a year or two, then later transfer. Like others, Kenneth Jackson chose that route. Starting out at Riverside City College and now attending Texas A&M University - Kingsville, Jackson is ready to show and prove that he can compete with the best in the sport.

Compton, California is where Kenny Jackson was born and raised, but later moved to Wildomar, California where he attended Elsinore High School during his junior year.  However, his love for track and field was not immediate. Football was his passion, but Kenny was introduced to track and field by none other than his defensive back coach, who also happened to be the head track and field coach. After Elsinore High, Kenny ended up competing for Riverside Community College, earning the programs powerhouse name in 2012. After getting his name a little buzz around Southern California and performing well at the California Community College State Championship, Kenny Jackson received a scholarship to compete for West Texas A&M to further his education and athletic eligibility. At West Texas, Jackson competed in both indoor and outdoor seasons his first year. Getting his personal best times down to 10.35 in the 100 meter dash and 20.96 in the 200 meter dash, both being clocked at the NCAA Division II Outdoor National Championships. 

The way his first season ended, Kenny Jackson was on top and it was assumed the following season would bring even better times. However, Kenny decided to return home to Compton and leave the West Texas program, ultimately having him sit out for a while. Now, two years later Kenny Jackson was offered a second shot from Texas A&M-Kingsville and finds himself finishing out his college education and eligibility for his final round. 

Since it was indoor season previously, Kenny has seen some progressive times in the 60 meter dash and 200 meter so far, clocking an impressive 6.78 and 21.65 after sitting out for two years. For those who don't quite understand how an indoor track works; it's a 200 meter track most of the time in an indoor facility and the quality of running isn't always easy. Usually during the outdoor season, you compete on a 400 meter track, one lap is equivalent to 400 meters. Whereas, indoor tracks are used during colder seasons and more than likely are embanked for sharp turns and curves. One lap on an indoor track is equivalent to 200 meters. Therefore, the 2016 indoor season was a little rocky for Jackson considering being out for two years and now just getting back into the flow of practice and meets again, but so far it is coming together. Jackson was crowned the 60m and 200m LSC indoor conference champion, also setting the meet record for the 200 meter. Kenny will be competing in the Indoor Divison II National Championship for the 200 meter in March and is primarily looking forward to outdoor season. Kenny Jackson has set goals for himself that he is confident he can hit during his comeback year. "Outdoor, my goal is to run a 9.98 in the 100m and run a 20.3 or faster in the 200m" said Jackson. His times so far as he concludes his indoor season, should lead him to see an improvement from the last time he competed at the collegiate level as he transitions into his outdoor season. 

"Something I  learned back in junior college is to visualize yourself basically all alone on the track.. focusing on your craft, and telling yourself all of the phases you need to hit every time. I also, tell myself I am the fastest athlete on that day of the meet" he explained. This mindset is what has kept Kenny Jackson hungry and persistent to show that he has what it takes to compete with the best there is. He may have had setbacks, but who doesn't? Jackson's main focus going into the outdoor season is trusting his training and taking things one meet and one practice at a time. The biggest meets on his schedule coming up consist of the Texas Relays, Penn Relays, Outdoor National Championship and the USA Olympic Trials. As Kenny continues on his way to becoming the world class athlete he know's he can be and competes with those who will take his running to the next level, he is mostly inspired by those around him to keep going and pushing himself to new limits.