Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

In the Spotlight: Jesse O’Connell

Charles Nailen/The Hoya  

Sport: Track

Event: 800m

Hometown: Westminster, Md.

High School: Westminster High School

School/Year: COL ’04

Major: Sociology

Minor: English

High School Highlights: Baltimore Sun Metro 2000 Runner of the Year for both indoor and outdoor track . Won six State Titles for the indoor 800m, the outdoor mile and 800m and the indoor and outdoor 4 x 800m . Member of the State Champion Cross Country Team . Set the school record in the 400m and 800m . Conference record holder in the 400m and 800m . County record holder in the 800m . Valedictorian of senior class . Named Westminster High School Athlete of the Year (2000) . Earned All-American honors indoors as a senior . Member of National Honor Society . Three-time County Runner of the Year . Finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award which honors America’s most outstanding and well-rounded high school seniors.

Georgetown Highlights: 2000/2001: 2001 USA Track & Field Junior National 800m Champion . Represented Team USA at the Pan American Junior Championships in Europe . One of nine male competitors invited to Edinburgh, Scotland as part of the USA Junior Tour where he won the 800m at the Edinburgh International Games . 2001 Big East Outdoor 800m Champion . Placed 3rd at the Big East in the 1,000m . NCAA provisional qualifier in the outdoor 800m . 2001/2002: Anchored GU’s first place victory for the 4 x 800 relay team at Penn Relays . Won the IC4A Outdoor 800m Championship . Finished 3rd in the 800m preliminaries at the NCAA Outdoor Championships . Finished 3rd in the 800m at the Big East Outdoor Championships . Placed second in the 1,000m at the Big East Indoor Championship.

Biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make for track: The biggest sacrifice would probably be a social life. You really aren’t around on the weekends and you don’t really get to go out and do things most people do. You’re hanging out with your team a lot, but not as much with other people.

Non-sports related achievement you’re proudest of: Probably being valedictorian of my high school class.

When did you realize you that you are a talented runner? It definitely wasn’t freshman year of high school – I was terrible. They almost cut me from the team. My junior year I became one of the better runners in the state, but it wasn’t until later that I realized I could compete. I was fairly average for quite some time.

Fastest you’ve ever run the 800m: I ran it in 1:47.5 last year in outdoors.

First thing you’d do if you won the lottery: I would probably give some money to my parents, some to a good cause and then buy something fun, like a car. Oh, I know what I’d do – I would buy a track for Georgetown!

Favorite place to train: A pretty cool place to run is near this outdoor education center in Maryland. It’s miles and miles of just woods and trails and fun stuff like that. I used to go there a lot in high school.

What’s going through your head during a race? Surprisingly, not too much. I’ll have trouble remembering parts of the race when I’m done. I just react to things that happen and keep thinking that I’ve got to keep hitting each 200 at the desired time. I just try to be aware of where everyone else is and try not to think about how much it hurts.

If you could be great at any other sport, what would it be? I think I’d be great at basketball, because when I was younger people expected me to be good since I’m tall. So I’d like to be legitimately good for once. Plus, I like it.

Height: 6-foot-7

Three things you’d grab if your house were on fire: A pair of my spikes, my USA uniform, and a snack so I don’t get hungry when I’m waiting for the fire department.

Most interesting job you’ve ever had: Probably working for a couple of summers as a camp counselor for a kid’s camp. The kids ranged from six to 14 years old. You couldn’t believe the trouble they get into or the stuff they think makes sense. It definitely kept me on my toes.

Have you ever met anyone famous? Robin Williams came into the running store where I work. It was cool, but he definitely didn’t want to be seen as Robin Williams. He just wanted to get some information about stuff. Also, Herman Edwards, the coach of the Jets, came into the store.

Worst fear: Probably being alone. Not like I’m afraid to be left alone in a room, but in the sense of not having someone later in my life. It’s either that or being locked alone in a room with Nat Glackin.

Three books on your ideal bookshelf: Once a Runner by John L. Parker, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers and Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.

Best sociology class you’ve taken at Georgetown: Death and Dying with Professor [William] Daddio. He’s such a cool guy. His personality comes out so much in his teaching and he really interacts with the class more than other professors here.

Person who’s had the most profound impact on you: It’s a tie between my mom and my dad. They’ve both been really supportive of everything I’ve ever wanted to do, and they’ve always been there for me, so I can’t really say one or the other.

Why did you decide to come to Georgetown? It was for a combination of several reasons. I didn’t want to go to school ridiculously far away – I figured an hour away was good. And it was a mix of strong academics and a great track team. I also ended up connecting with the track coach, Coach Valmon, and so I decided to come here. And George O’Loughlin showed me a good time on my recruiting trip, too.

First thing you do in the morning: I have a bowl of cereal, usually before my eyes are open.

Favorite cereal: I’m a big fan of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Movie you could watch 100 times and never get sick of: I watch a lot of movies, but I’d have to say Super Troopers. It’s like a terrible, sophomoric comedy. It came out this summer.

Worst movie: American Outlaws.

Best thing you know how to cook yourself: I’ve made grilled tuna steak with fruit salsa. I cook a lot . I make stir-fry a lot, any kind of grilled chicken. My mom could have been a caterer, and my dad cooks, too. I learned by watching them, and figured that being able to cook for myself at college would be worthwhile.

What do you do to get psyched for a meet? For me, I do the opposite. I try to get relaxed – I lie there with my eyes closed and I talk to people. People get confused because I talk to people on the other team, and I’m friendly to them. It’s not until two or three seconds before a race that I get focused and aggressive.

Do you get nervous before a race? Not so much nervous as I get anxious. At this point I’ve seen every level of competitive running, and I know what I’m going into. But I want to do my best and do well, and there are so many intangibles.

One word to describe yourself: Complex.

One word your roommates would use to describe you: Probably anal. Tall works, too.

Best way to procrastinate: Watching terrible movies on HBO.

Favorite place on campus: I spend a lot of time in the lounge in Leavey to do work. But, maybe the cafeteria at Darnall.

Three things you always keep in your fridge: Gatorade, a jar of garlic because you’ve got to start with that no matter what you’re cooking and some sort of random leftover.

Person who knows you the best: Probably my friend Treniere, sadly enough for her. It’s a tough load to bear.

Best concert you’ve ever been to: I saw Ben Harper at Constitution Hall. That was definitely cool.

Favorite quote or personal motto: “You’re all under arrest” and “Take each day as it comes.”

Highlight track moment: Winning the Penn Relays last year. We were the 15th seed, and no one thought we’d win. The three guys just ran gutsy as hell, and I got a lead in the last leg and was able to win. There were about 52,000 people in the stands – besides the Olympics, it might be the most popular track event in the world.

Most embarrassing moment: It was two years ago, the first time I’d ever been to the Penn Relays. Bill Cosby was there, and he was standing at the finish line, congratulating the runners when they finish. I was running the third leg, and after I handed off, I saw Bill Cosby there. I just stumbled toward him and was like, “Hey, you’re Bill Cosby.”

One thing you want to accomplish before you graduate: I would definitely want to be in the position of winning the NCAA title, whether that means going in favored or as an underdog. I also want to win another Penn Relays title. A non-sports related goal is to get inside the basketball locker room, because it’s kind of mysterious.

What’s under your bed right now? Boxes of clothes, a bunch of empty shoe boxes. That’s probably it.

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