CROZET – Distance running and University of Virginia sports have been two of Jack Eliason‘s passions growing up in Charlottesville.
The Western Albemarle standout joined Wahoo Nation as a student-athlete recently when he committed to join the track and field program for the Cavaliers.
“What made me choose UVa over other schools is because I believe that they are the most successful university in the country,” Eliason said. “With all the team’s national championships, from a variety of sports, they seem to understand what it takes to win.”
Eliason capped off a sensational career with a standout senior campaign. Last fall, he was named Central Virginia Cross Country Runner of the Year after leading the Warriors to a third straight VHSL Class 3 state title. He joined Gannon Willcutts (2015) as the only runner in school history to win medalist honors at the state meet with a time of 15 minutes, 15 seconds.
During indoor track season, he was just as productive. Eliason repeated as state champion in the 3,200 meters (9:26.73) to seal the Class 3 state indoor boys title for the team in front of UVa cross country coach Vin Lananna. He also teamed up to win gold in the 4x800-meter relay and was third in the 1,600 meters (4:15.93).
Eliason’s best 5K time, 15:05, came last fall during the Albemarle Invitational at Panorama Farms, the home course of UVa. His other top times include, 9:13 in the 3,200, 4:16 in the 1,600 and 1:58 in the 800.
The recent Western Albemarle graduate said UVa is a perfect fit for him.
“I’m excited to pursue great academic tasks in the future and UVa is the perfect place to do so,” Eliason said. “Coach Jason Dun and Coach Vin Lananna are two elite coaches who obviously know how to take the program to another level by winning the ACC championship, the NCAA Southeast Regionals and the NCAA championships for cross country and track and field.”
Eliason was impressed with the facilities offered to athletes at UVa and the immediate kinship among the athletes on the team.
“The teammates were kind and benevolent on my visit and the vibe of the university was extremely positive,” he said. “So, I was like ‘OK, what school can top this?’ The coaches liked my consistency of racing, my efforts and my leadership abilities and fortunately they have given me a shot to run at the collegiate level.”
Dunn and Lananna believe Eliason has all the tools to become a consistent contributor for the Cavaliers.
“The coaches have a plan for me to be the best, smartest student-athlete that I can be as well as being a role model and show our team’s character to the best of my ability,” Eliason said. “Hopefully I am able to do so. I know I will give everything I’ve got.”
That work ethic and competitive spirit aren’t limited to running. Eliason is a focused and driven student with high aspirations for the future. He hopes to major in American Studies or Political Science, but is leaving his options open.
Career aspirations run the gamut for the Western Albemarle alumnus, from politician and teacher, to coach or sport broadcaster.
Eliason credits the Crozet community, especially his family for helping him pursue this dream. In addition, he’s appreciative of Warriors track coach Lindy Bain and assistants Cass Girvin and Charlie Hurt, along with his teammates for all the support over the year.
“They are the ones who motivate me to continuously do the best that I can for the team and the community,” he said. “They deserve the recognition of our team’s success.”
The Western Albemarle standout had plenty of opportunities to run at the next level, including offers from Richmond and Bucknell. He also received interest from Washington & Lee, William and Mary, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Columbia before making his decision to go to UVa.
“Virginia was practically always my No. 1 choice from the start,” he said. “I have always been a Wahoo fan and when they expressed interest in me, it was a dream becoming a reality. After the visit, I could not turn down the offer. Other schools that offered or reached out to me were fantastic schools as well and I appreciate the coaches from those schools who took the time to talk to me and they deserve a lot of credit for, not only the respectable teams they coach but for their dedication and care for the sports of cross country and track and field.”
Now with the decision made, Eliason understands that the big work is still ahead.
“I have to do work in order to solidify myself as being a college athlete,” he said. “All I’ve done is accept to run at UVa, but I have a job at task and it is to work hard, compete and be the best teammate I can be. Then will I feel good enough to really call myself a collegiate athlete.”
Eliason is thrilled with the opportunity to compete at the Division I level.
“Oh, it’s an amazing thing and I feel very fortunate and thankful,” he said. “Not many people compete in Division I athletics and to be able to say that I will is humbling, but at the same time, it provides another job and responsibility on the table. To make folks in the community proud and provide inspiration to all runners and athletes.”
Individually, the thing that drives him most is the ancillary motivation.
“The most important thing when it comes to sports is most definitely the bonds you make when your teammates, coaches and quite frankly, your competitors,” Eliason said. “To make these bonds and have fun in what you’re doing is not necessarily defined as a goal, but rather as a hopeful accomplishment. My personal goals are to most definitely defined as a goal, but rather as a hopeful accomplishment. My personal goal is to most definitely give everything that I can in every race and work out and win a national championship.”