When she was a senior at Ketchikan High School, Jodi Jakubek didn't think she had the talent to be a college runner.
So she was looking at softball programs when her mother, Bett, got involved. Bett found names of a few cross-country running coaches and made contact, and the rest took care of itself.
Jakubek is now a junior nursing student and the top runner at Marquette University, which is looking to earn a spot in the NCAA Division I Championships later this month with a strong performance at Saturday's Great Lakes Regional Meet. She has a chance to win All-American honors if she earns a spot and then places well in her third trip to the national meet.
"I thought I wouldn't be able to run," Jakubek said. "If it wasn't for my mom, I wouldn't be doing this."
On Oct. 30, Jakubek finished second individually with a time of 21 minutes, 24 seconds over the 6-kilometer course and led the Golden Eagles to their fifth straight women's title in the Conference-USA Championships. Jakubek was running with eventual winner Mary Kinyanjui, a Kenyan competing for Texas Christian University, but Kinyanjui pulled ahead on the last kilometer and won by eight seconds to become just the second runner to win two stragiht CUSA titles.
"I never met Jodi before she came to Marquette. We just talked on the phone and sent e-mails so I wasn't sure what to expect," Marquette cross country and track coach Dave Uhrich wrote in an e-mail. "I never expected her to be as successful as she has been and it certainly has been a pleasant surprise. As far as her personality, she is easy to get along with and I have enjoyed getting to know her and watch her grow as a runner."
Because Jakubek hadn't competed in track in high school, Marquette recruited her as a walk-on for the cross-country running team. She could train with the team, but she'd have to beat out several scholarship runners for a spot when the Golden Eagles went to meets.
"I was a walk-on and I was so nervous because everyone else was like a Wisconsin state champion. It was a little intimidating," Jakubek said.
It wasn't that Jakubek didn't have a talent for running when she was in high school, where she also played guard on Ketchikan's basketball team and third base or shortstop on the softball team. She just wasn't sure of herself, especially after her senior year didn't match her junior cross-country season at Ketchikan. When she was a junior, Jakubek won the Region V title and finished ninth at the state meet. But she slipped to seventh place in the region and 12th at state as a senior.
But Jakubek quickly found a spot on Marquette's cross-country running team. She moved up to the third and fourth spots by the end of her freshman season, and finished 98th in the NCAA meet as Marquette took 18th in the team standings. As a sophomore last year, Jakubek moved up to 51st in the individual race even though the Golden Eagles slipped to 22nd in the team standings.
Jakubek also ran the 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meters on the indoor and outdoor track teams - her first time running track since elementary school. She redshirted during the indoor track season her freshman year, but did compete in the outdoor season and took third place in the 5,000 at the C-USA Championships. Last season she was fifth in the 3,000, sixth in the 5,000 and fifth in the 10,000 at the C-USA outdoor track championships, even though she battled some knee injuries.
"Jodi keeps getting stronger each year as she has had more years of continuous running behind her," Uhrich wrote. "Because she didn't run track in high school, that slowed her progress. But it may have helped make her more motivated in college. She is also helped by having so many good runners to train with. As far as track is concerned, it has taken her awhile to get used to running in circles instead of on a cross country course and it has caused some slight injuries from the constant turning, but I think she is ready to have a very good track season this spring."
Jakubek said she hopes to graduate next year with a bachlor of science degree in nursing and then continue school to become a nurse anesthetist. Earlier this year, Jakubek won the Conference-USA Commissioner's Academic Medal.
"If I didn't have sports and practice I don't think I'd be as successful," said Jakubek, who was salutatorian of her high school class. "It allowed me to be strict with my studies. It's been great. My teammates have been my best friends and I love my coach. He was (C-USA) coach of the decade."
If Marquette finishes among the top teams at this weekend's regional and makes the NCAA Championships, then Jakubek could earn her first All-American honor. The top 30 finishers at the NCAA meet who are American citizens earn the honor.
"We have the strongest region in the nation and our team goal is to get third behind Michigan and Notre Dame," Jakubek said of this weekend's region meet. "Personally, I'd like to finish in the top eight. But my main goal is to go to nationals.
"I definitely want to go All-American in cross this year and next year, and I'd like to make regionals and nationals in track," Jakubek said when asked her short- and long-term goals. "I'd love to do some professional running after college, being sponsored to run in some races."
Gonzaga University sophomore Gabe Hayden (Juneau-Douglas) finished 36th in the Eastern Washington University Invitatational on Oct. 16, posting a time of 27:54.8 for the 8-kilometer course. Even though he was Gonzaga's sixth runner at the EWU race, Hayden did not show up on the results from the Big West Conference Championships held Oct. 30 in Belmont, Calif.
Central Washington University junior Brandy Anderson (Juneau-Douglas, formerly Brandy Weston) finished 17th on Saturday at the NCAA Division II West Regional held in Bellingham, Wash. Anderson covered the 6-kilometer course in 23:56. Anderson, an elementary education major, made the all-Great Northwest Athletic Conference academic team with a 3.56 GPA. She finished fourth in the GNAC Championships held Oct. 23 in Humboldt, Calif., posting a time of 23:49.22.
Seattle University junior Meghan Salveson (Juneau-Douglas) finished 38th on Saturday at the NCAA Division II West Regional, posting a time of 24:38. Salveson also took 16th place at the GNAC meet on Oct. 23, posting a time of 24:36.64. Salveson's teammate, sophomore Phoebe Rohrbacher (Juneau-Douglas), took 64th place at the GNAC meet in 26:51.51, but didn't show up in the results for the West Regional. Both Salveson and Rohrbacher made the all-GNAC academic team, Salveson with a 3.88 GPA and Rohrbacher with a 3.38 GPA, both in the arts and science pre-major.
University of Alaska Anchorage sophomore Anjuli Haydu (Craig) finished 66th in the GNAC Championships on Oct. 23, posting a time of 27:08.19. She did not appear in the results from the West Regional, where UAA finished third and earned its first trip to the NCAA Division II Championships. Haydu also made the all-GNAC academic team with a 3.51 GPA in her undeclared major.
Seattle Pacific University senior Breanne Rohm (Juneau-Douglas) ran for the Falcons this year, but only showed up in the results of a couple of early season meets that have previously been reported in College Corner. She was not among SPU's runners at the GNAC meet and at the West Regional.
University of Puget Sound freshman Erin Nugent (Ketchikan) ran for the Loggers this season, but was not on the UPS squad that competed at the Northwest Conference Championships. The last race with results was the Lewis & Clark Invitational in Portland, Ore., where Nugent posted a 6K time of 26:13.75 but her place wasn't available.
Clark University (Boston area) freshman Kerri Powers (Juneau-Douglas) finished 86th with a 5-kilometer time of 21:26 at the Seventh Annual NEWMAC (New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference) Cross Country Championships held Oct. 30 in Waterford, Conn. Powers also finished 33rd in 22:28 at the Tri-State Championships held Oct. 2 in Lincoln, R.I., and she was 17th in 23:16 at the Worcester City Collegiate Cross Country Meet held Sept. 25 in Boylston, Mass.
Eastern Oregon University freshman Autumn Streuli (Petersburg) finished 48th with a 5K time of 21:09.50 in the NAIA Region I Preview Meet held Oct. 16 in Portland, Ore. Streuli also posted a time of 21:13 at the Lewis-Clark State College Invite, but no place was available for her at the Oct. 23 race in Lewiston, Idaho. EOU is coached by Ben Welch, the 1980 Alaska state cross-country running champion from Wasilla High School.
Former Adams State College runner Carl Blackhurst (Haines) is a graduate assistant coach for the top-ranked NCAA Division II ASC Grizzlies in Alamosa, Colo. Blackhurst was a seven-time all-American in cross country and track during his career and he competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the 2004 Olympic Trials in June. He holds bachelor degrees in English and history from ASC and is working on a masters in human performance, wellness and recreation.
Western Washington University senior tight end Rick Carte (Juneau-Douglas) was a repeat first-team selection when the all-Great Northwest Athletic Conference team was named this week. Carte finished the regular season with 19 catches for 210 yards and three touchdowns, including a 21-yard score in Saturday's 55-20 victory over Humboldt State University. WWU finished the season with a 6-4 record overall and was 3-3 in the GNAC.
Eastern Oregon University sophomore tight end Jacob Miller (Juneau-Douglas) is listed as second string on the team's depth chart, but has yet to show up in the season stats for the Mountaineers (6-3 overall).
Central Lakes College of Minnesota freshman Mark Shilling (Juneau-Douglas) is one of three quarterbacks listed on the team's roster and he has seen action this year, but stats weren't available for the team (2-6 overall).
University of Oregon freshman setter Callan Janowiec (Juneau-Douglas) has seen action off the bench in 28 games for the Ducks (9-12 overall through Oct. 29, 1-10 Pac-10), recording 71 assists and 18 digs.
University of Bridgeport sophomore middle hitter Amy Neussl (Juneau-Douglas) leads the Purple Pirates (16-8 overall through Nov. 1, 7-4 in the New York Collegiate Athletic Conference) in blocking with 64 solo blocks and 61 block assists, plus she is second on the team in kills with 248, third in digs with 274 and fourth in service aces with 24.
Western Oregon University freshman defensive specialist-outside hitter Julie Heard (Juneau-Douglas) has seen action in 19 games off the bench for the Wolves (8-14 overall through Nov. 1, 4-10 GNAC), recording 23 digs, four kills and two service aces.
University of Alaska Fairbanks freshman defensive specialist Danielle Ryder (Juneau-Douglas) has appeared in 28 games off the bench for the Nanooks (11-12 overall through Nov. 6, 8-8 GNAC), recording 27 digs, two kills and two aces.
George Fox University sophomore middle blocker Brenna Asper-Smith (Juneau-Douglas) has seen action in 31 games (with six match starts) for the Bruins (12-11 overall through Nov. 4, 7-7 Cascade Conference), recording 22 kills, 14 digs, four solo blocks and 18 block assists.
Whitman College junior outside hitter Karna Williams (Petersburg) has seen action in two games off the bench for the Missionaries (7-15 overall through Oct. 30, 5-9 Rainier Conference), recording one kill, one assist and one dig.
Concordia University (Portland, Ore.) junior forward Robert Lossett (Juneau-Douglas) scored seven goals and had two assists for the Cavaliers (11-5-2 overall through Oct. 30, 9-2-1 Cascade Conference), helping Concordia win its third straight conference title and the top seed and home-field advantage in the conference tournament.
Trinity Western University (Langley, British Columbia) freshman forward Lee Sullivan (Juneau-Douglas) had an assist during TWU's 3-0 victory over the University of Saskatchewan on Oct. 30, which clinched the Canada West title for TWU. No season stats were available for Sullivan.
Whitworth University freshman forward Greta Thibodeau (Juneau-Douglas) has one goal and no assists in 18 games off the bench for her team (12-5-1 overall through Oct. 31, 11-3-1 Rainier Conference).
University of California Santa Cruz freshman defender Laura Flynn (Juneau-Douglas) has not scored in six games (one start) for the Banana Slugs (10-5-1 overall through Oct. 30). Flynn, last year's Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year, also has an older sister, Erin Flynn, who was on the roster for UC Santa Cruz the last two years but isn't on the team this season.
St. Mary's College of Maryland sophomore midfielder Liza Slotnick (Juneau-Douglas) did not score in 10 games off the bench for the Seahawks, who finished their season with a 1-0 Capital Athletic Conference tournament loss to Salisbury University on Nov. 1. The Seahawks went 6-8-2 this year.
University of Washington senior Michael Kohan (Juneau-Douglas) rowed in the three seat as the Huskies' women's varsity eight boat won the Portland Loop Regatta on Oct. 30 with a lopsided victory over Oregon State. UW posted a time of 22:13.95 for the 7,000-meter race, while OSU finished in 23:25.17.
Washington State University sophomore Sarah Lende (Haines resident, graduated from Northfield Mount Hermon in Massachusetts) is a second-year rower for the Cougars and was on the novice team last year. Junior Steph Woodruff (Ketchikan) is a first-year rower for the Cougars after transferring to WSU from Southern Oregon. On Oct. 29, WSU rowed against Gonzaga in the Head of the Snake regatta, but the race results didn't show who was in which boat for WSU.
Bowdoin College senior Eliza Lende (Haines) will be a captain for the women's crew this year. Lende rowed in the three-seat in Bowdoin's varsity four boat as it took second place 12 seconds behind the University of Tulsa and three seconds ahead of a boat from Galway, Ireland, in the Club Four event at the 40th Annual Head of the Charles Regatta held Oct. 23 in Boston. When she was a freshman, Lende also played on Bowdoin's women's hockey team.
Gustavus Adolphus College sophomore Alex Sadighi (Juneau-Douglas) posted a 1-1 doubles record in fall tennis tournaments this year.
Texas A&M junior Seva Iwinski (former Juneau-Douglas student, graduated from The Walker School in Marietta, Ga.) posted a 2-5 singles record and a 2-4 doubles record in fall tennis tournaments this year.
The Juneau Empire's College Corner feature runs about once a month during the school year and is compiled by sports editor Charles Bingham from school Web sites and tips from readers, coaches and parents. If you know of any other college athlete from Southeast Alaska who should be included in the feature, please let us know. You can fax information to 586-3028 (attention Sports), or you can e-mail the information to email@example.com (no text attachments, please).