FAIRFIELD — Switching sports has paid off for Vanden’s Alex Jenks – in a big way.
Jenks, a senior, signed a letter of intent to run track and cross country for Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah, in Vanden High’s Little Theater, Wednesday.
As a freshman, Jenks was passionate about playing soccer. But once introduced to running, she had a change of heart.
“Of course, I was a soccer player and I decided to choose running over soccer,” Jenks said. “I love running. It is my passion. I have continuously gotten better over the years. I love my teammates because they have influenced me to get better.
“I know that in college I’ll have to harder training. It will be an everyday thing. I’ll have to make sure that I’m on my ‘A’ game. I’ll continue to get better and that’s what I want to do. I want to get to the best level that I can.”
Jenks is the three-time defending Solano County Athletic Conference champion in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, two-time champ in the 800 and won SCAC cross country titles in 2011 and 2012.
With academic and athletic money from the athletic department, Jenks will have at least half of her education paid for. She’ll being studying for a double major in education and business.
“It’s not a full scholarship,” she said. “It’s pretty much a half scholarship. I’ll be receiving a lot of money, but I’ll also have to pay for some things, too. But I’m excited and I’m prepared.”
There were a few offers Jenks had to decide between, and the final decision came down to a personal one.
“I liked Minnesota State because it was a smaller team and the coaches had more influence on the runners, they individualized their workouts more,” Jenks admitted. “It was more of running for ourselves instead of running in a big group.
“But when it came down to it, religion is a really big part of my life and Utah Valley is an amazing school. They have an amazing team. It is a bigger team, but I know I can get used to that. I know I can grow through the other girls. There are a lot of fast runners there and I want to continue to get better.”
“I think a lot of it was her religious beliefs,” Hogue said. “She really, really liked the school in Minnesota. She went out for a trip and fell in love with the campus, with the people, the coaches.
“When it came down to her religious beliefs – she’s Mormon – she said ‘Coach, they don’t have my religion here.’ I told her she has to go where she’s going to be happy . . . and practice her religion. I told her you have to be the one who goes there and be happy for four years.”
Added Jenks, “(Utah Valley’s) campus was amazing. They have a huge campus and actually they’ve been renovating it. They have really nice buildings. It’s not on-campus living, it’s off-campus living, but it’s really nice. I went to some of the classes and they were really nice.
“The track stadium was really nice, too. Everything is updated there. I went to some of the spots where they train at and they were really nice, too. I’m excited.”
“I think (the athletics) is a great fit,” the coach said. “With her, she can run the longer distances. When I look at her, she can probably be a real strong 1,500-meter runner and the 800. They’ll find out where she fits in. They’ll get her in the weight program and that’s really going to be a great help to her.
“I consider her a workaholic. She’s always one of the first (at practice) and the last to leave. Even when she’s hurting, she takes the time off. She make take a day, but then she’s right back at it. She’s just a workaholic. She’s a great example of what you put into a sport is what you get out. Her product was she ended up getting a scholarship.”
For Jenks, the product of all her hard work paid off..
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.