Here is the next entry in our new series on NJ MileSplit, with so many seniors heading off to bigger and better things we wanted to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time. As well as to invite those seniors to tell their stories from the past four years. If you would like to partake in these articles here is how, we'll be posting all June and July.
Today we have a piece sent in by Ryan Rafferty. He had a successful distance running career at Jackson Memorial ending his New Jersey high school career at the Meet of Champions placing 5th in the 3200 meter. That race he ran a PR of 9:10.15 breaking a long standing school record.
Name: Ryan Rafferty
School: Jackson Memorial
What was your most memorable race/moment?
My most memorable moment out of all 4 years was when my cross-country team made it out of sectionals to groups for the first time in 7 years. I had dreamt of that moment since I was a sophomore. When I was a sophomore the team was 15th at sectionals and my junior year 11th. By the time I was a senior we all worked together to get 3rd at sectionals. I couldn't be more proud of all them for that great experience.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
That is sort of a tough question considering Jackson is moved into new sections almost every season so if I had to pick I would say both Tim Bason and JP Flavin. The two of them have played huge rolls in making me want to compete at a high intensity. Tim with his crazy fast leg speed and JP with high longer distance skills have pushed me throughout high school. Id like to thank them and say good luck to them for their next 4 years.
What was your greatest accomplishment?
I think my greatest accomplishment came during my last meet of champions ever. All though I have placed higher at the meet of champions, when I placed 5th at MOC's running the 3200, it was a great accomplishment. The reason being is because I ran a personal record, 13 seconds faster then my original, to also run my school record, one that has been held for 23 years. I waited so long to break a track record and it finally happened at my last individual race in high school.
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
If there is one thing I learned it is to stay calm and good spirited before a race. I found that before races I would get extremely nervous and end up not running well, but if I were just enjoying all of it and having a good time everything would pan out. It took me 4 years to figure that out but I'm glad I did because it has helped me in my last few races and will continue to help me for the next 4 years.
Photo submitted by Ryan Rafferty
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
My biggest obstacle was getting me to run the 3200. Sounds a little ridiculous but I hated running the 3200 because I found it boring and I was impatient during races. My coach really advised that id do it. I always loved running the 1600 and the 800 because they were very up tempo and I enjoyed them. Spring season of my senior year came along and I said its time, and I end up trying it and by the end of the season I enjoyed it.
What will you miss the most?
The thing I will miss most are the three other distance guys I graduated with. They have been there through thick and thin. Countless runs through the rain, snow, mud, and blistering heat. Lots of laughs and great times and I couldn't ask for better best friends. I'm going to miss them by my side. Good luck to them as well.
What advice would you give to younger athletes?
My underclassmen were great and really stepped up to the plate for the team and I. Their work ethic is key and they need to keep it up. To other Younger athletes, do what it takes to become great. Work hard everyday and don't overdue yourself cause that's how injuries occur.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
I can't say enough about my coaches. Coach Theo has been my go to since I was a freshman. He's always there for me to just pop into class and talk for a moment and I thank him for everything he does for Jackson Memorials running program. Coach Schick on the other hand has done everything he can to push me and make me a better runner. Out of the four years has molded me into a true runner and always kept me healthy. Thank you for all the time you have spent helping my self and my teammates out.
What are your college plans?
The next chapter in my life will be spent at Monmouth University. I can't wait to run for Coach Joe. Being part of their program is something I look forward too.
Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?
I would like to thank both my coaches and all my teammates for supporting me and helping me out for the past few years. Also I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me at races whenever they can. Lastly I want to thank Jackson Memorial. I wouldn't have wanted to go to any other school. I am proud to say and always will be proud to say I'm a jaguar.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Being in high school and competing has truly been the best experience of my life whether on at practice, or camp or even in the oval office. Don't let any one fool you, Being a high school athlete is amazing especially and a state and a sport like this.