By Mike Blackerby
Seth Jinks had no shortage of motivation entering his senior season at L&N Stem Academy.
After cruising to the Small Schools state cross country individual championship as a sophomore, Jinks slid to fourth in the 2018 state meet.
Talk about the loneliness of the long-distance runner.
“Falling short last year was extremely tough for me,” said Jinks, the 5Sstar Preps boys cross country runner of the year.
“It brought a lot of motivation for me this year coming back. I was definitely a different runner coming back,” he said.
Jinks was the No. 2 finisher at KIL in 16:29.
He garnered his measure of redemption at the state meet by reclaiming his championship in smashing style, posting a 24-second victory.
L&N coach Christina Daugherty said she has never seen an athlete as laser focused as Jinks was entering his senior year.
“I just think of extreme dedication when I think of Seth Jinks,” said Daugherty.
After his disappointing junior season, Jinks and his coaches re-tooled his training and mental approach to running.
He even packed on more muscle and changed his diet.
“After he kind of took a step back his junior year, he changed his approach,” said Daugherty.
“This year we kind of unleashed a monster. I’ve never experienced a runner with as much dedication as Seth had this year.”
Jinks said the memory of a disappointing fourth-place finish at state definitely fueled his drive as a senior.
“I had a lot more solid workouts and training in general that I did not have the previous year,” he explained.
“My coaches really pushed me to my limits with the workouts through the training cycle.”
Looking back, Jinks said he appreciates his second state championship much more than the first.
“I think being on that course for the last time made it feel a lot more meaningful for me,” said Jinks.
“Watching the progression in my running throughout the years showed me how much I loved the state environment.”
Looking ahead, Jinks said he is weighing his options about running in college.
“I know I definitely want to run in college, but I’m not exactly sure where I want to go,” he said.
“I am hoping to make my decision in January.”
Daugherty said it’s tough to say goodbye to Jinks – the runner, student and the individual.
“Seth is just a good person,” she said.
“It makes me really sad because I don’t want to see him leave the team.”