The word “great” is most often used to describe something of excellence worthy of being remembered. In sports, it implies a whole new level of performance.
Junior Jonathan Peterson is rapidly earning the right to receive the title.
On Monday, the recently named All-American made Aggie sports history when he outlasted over 200 participants to finish 14th at the Division I NCAA Cross Country National Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. Peterson, who finished the 10K race in 30:09.1, was the only UC Davis runner to qualify for the meet.
“What I had done didn’t really settle in until I saw my family,” Peterson said. “Then the emotions were really strong.”
Coach Drew Wartenburg was proud of Peterson’s performance. Wartenburg believes this could be a building block for future UC Davis runners.
“On performance alone he serves as a model [for the rest of the team],” Wartenburg said. “We had hoped to find an individual that could serve as the cornerstone to build the team upon.”
Peterson did not have a smooth ride en route to the history books. In his sophomore year, Peterson was used his redshirt due to an ankle injury.
“It was definitely a setback, but nothing I couldn’t get over. You just do what you can to get better,” he said.
Peterson said he felt gratified that he had achieved so much after a season-long injury.
The NCAA Championships were the last event for cross country this fall. Peterson’s isn’t done running, however. The Clovis, Calif. native will be competing in distance events for the track and field team in the spring.
“One begets the other, so [the two sports] feed upon themselves. Jon will continue to get better as he works at both sports,” Wartenburg said. “Our goal for all of our athletes is to have the best run of their careers the last time they suit up for an event with [the Aggies].”
Peterson also said that he isn’t done quite yet even after the incredible performance.
“I have completed everything I wanted on my career goals list,” Peterson said. “So all I can do now is make a new list.”
RON HOOPER can be reached at email@example.com.