Athlete of the Week: Poway High’s Jensen shines at Mt. SAC Invitational
By Michael Bower
First-year Poway High cross country coach Bruce Jackson knows not to place too high of expectations on incoming freshmen. But it had to be pretty tough to do that with Colin Jensen.
After all, running is in Jensen’s background. He started competing three years ago with the San Diego Roadrunners, a youth track and cross country team. His older brother, Ryan Jensen, had an outstanding cross country career at Poway before graduating in 2010. He now competes for Cal State San Marcos.
“We knew coming in that Colin was a talented runner,” Jackson said. “We knew he had the running background and we knew he had run for the Roadrunners in middle school; so we knew he would be prepared. Still, we don’t put too high of expectations on young runners.”
After Jensen’s performance at the prestigious Mt. San Antonio College Invitational in Walnut last weekend, the expectations should certainly be on the rise now.
Jensen conquered the hilly three-mile course to capture first place in one of the four Division I freshmen races. His time of 16 minutes, 26 seconds was the second fastest time for his grade level.
For his efforts, Jensen is the I-15 Voices Athlete of the Week.
“It was definitely a confidence booster,” Jensen said. “I knew I had a chance at it, but I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Anyone can come out and run. You don’t know who you are going to see. There were tons of runners I have never seen before.”
The invitational tends to bring out most of the top competition in California. Jensen won his race by two seconds, catching the front-runner on the final hill and then holding him off for about the last half-mile.
“I catch people more on the hills, but I do better on the flats after the hills,” Jensen said. “A lot of people get tired after the hills, but I just push through that and I can go a lot faster. That definitely helped me a lot.”
Freshmen often get caught up in the quick start at the Mt. SAC Invitational. The opening mile is usually a sprint and it kills young runners toward the end of the race. Jackson made sure Jensen did not fall into that trap.
“He executed our strategy to a ‘T,’ Jackson said. “The first mile we wanted to be within striking distance of the front group, but not leading. Then right after the mile the hills start and that is where to strike.”
The Titans pride themselves on running hills. The team mantra is “a Poway runner is a hill runner.” Working the hills over at Lake Poway paid off for Jensen, who had the second-best time of any Poway runner over the weekend.
“My ultimate goal is to continue to get better and better,” Jensen said. “I hope to work my way up through the years and get to state.”
Jackson sees a bright future for Jensen.
“He has got the work ethic for sure and I can see him moving up and being our No. 1 next year,” Jackson said. “You never know what freshmen are going to come in, but I expect him to be amongst our top runners or the No. 1 runner.”
And that’s an expectation Jensen has earned the right to have.
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