First-year runner Jack Patwell has helped the men’s cross country team greatly improve in his short time at The University. His impressive times at meets have helped lift the Royals to four fifth-place-or-better finishes this season.
After a standout performance at Saturday’s Landmark Conference meet, Patwell earned the title of Landmark Conference Rookie of the Year. Because of this and all he has contributed to the program this season, Patwell has also been named University Athlete of the Week.
Q: What were your expectations for this year and have they been met so far?
A: Going into it, I think reasonably so, I was very nervous. It’s a college team so it’s a bigger program than I’m used to. Where I come from, the cross country program was a coach and a foam roller, but here Coach Burke, who has been incredibly helpful, he’s super knowledgeable about everything from running to muscle groups and treating injuries, he’s been great. As a team, I think we have been doing really well. As coach said, I think we have improved a lot from previous years. He talks a lot about building up a team culture and building a positive team environment, and coming into this team that’s definitely what I felt. They make you feel welcome. They are a great bunch of guys and my expectations have been blown out of the water.
Q: How did it feel to earn the title of University Athlete of the Week as a first-year during your first season here?
A: I didn’t really think that this was ever going to happen. I was just hoping to get onto the team and maybe make it into the top five. But I think that because of not only my hard work, but the work of my coaches and my teammates pushing me [it was possible.] I am very grateful.
Q: Why did you choose to come to The University and join the cross country team?
A: I chose to come to The University for the academics and the environment of the school. I chose to run at Scranton because of Coach William Burke. I met him at an open house and he’s a very intense speaker, but he speaks with such vigor and intelligence that you just want to hear him speak, and when he talks about the program you can tell that he is very passionate about what he does. He told me about the team and I got in contact with some of the guys and I felt like this is where I wanted to be and where I wanted to run for the next four years.
Q: Do you have any cross country role models?
A: Like most runners would say, Steve Prefontaine is the man. Other than that, no. I am a big fan of Mo Farah and other Olympians, but as far as role models I can’t really think of anyone else.
Q: Who would you say is your biggest supporter?
A: Definitely my mom and dad. My dad knew about my place in the conference race before I knew about it. He’s on top of things.
Q: Has any specific meet stood out to you as most memorable this year?
A: They’ve all just been genuinely good experiences. Even the races where I didn’t do as hot as I wanted to, or the team didn’t do as well as we wanted to, just being with everybody in that environment has just been great.
Q: What are you most excited for in the rest of your three seasons here?
A: Well I hope to win conferences at least once. But I’m really excited just helping grow the program more and running my races and spending time with my team.
Q: Do you have any pre-meet rituals?
A: I listen to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” from Mulan. I did that before I came here and then I figured out that [the guys on the team] all loved it to.
Q: Is there anything else you want people to know about you?
A: You can follow me on Instagram @jpatwell16