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Going the distance
Rebounding from injury, Jackson Langat becomes a national champ.
By Rick Waters '95
Fifth-year senior Jackson Langat entered his final year with a goal of proving that he’s one of the top runners in the country.
Already a four-time All-America, Langat has had few doubters. But despite the accolades, something within Langat told him that he hadn’t yet reached the elite level he imagined for himself.
This season, he arrived.
In March, he won the 800 meters at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships with a time of 1:47.02, making him the first in school history to win the national title in the event and just the third men’s national champion in any indoor event at TCU.
“To me, it was a big deal, because in your last year, you want to make it really big, and that’s what I did,” Langat said. “I wanted to go out as a champion.”
“I’m thrilled for Jackson,” track coach Darryl Anderson said. “He has been through a lot at TCU, and to finish his indoor eligibility with an NCAA title is a great accomplishment.”
When Anderson arrived at TCU in November 2004, he could immediately see what kind of athlete he had in Langat.
But he also realized that Langat was not in top form. Langat was coming off a hip and groin injury that forced him to miss the 2004 cross country season, and he didn’t start training until January 2005.
There were days Langat was too sore to practice. But Anderson preached patience and forced Langat to rest.
“It was extremely difficult for him to sit out,” Anderson said. “He trains as well as any athlete in any physical discipline that I’ve seen. He takes pride in it.”
But the rest paid off. When Langat was able to practice again, Anderson had him sprint at shorter distances, a regimen new to Langat.
“I thought he could run it faster,” Anderson said. “The 800 becomes a 600 meter race and a 400 meter race and a 200 meter race. So I thought he could push the pace.”
Langat said the training — and his health — changed his mindset. He was going to become a national champion.
It also turned him into an outdoor champ as well. In April, Langat took the title in the 800 at the Mountain West Conference meet.
“Coach Anderson deserves so much credit,” Langat said. Because of him, I finished as a champion.”