June 5, 2006
On Wednesday, Senior Bruce Jackson will become the first Husky sprinter to compete in an individual event at the NCAA Championships since 2001, and the first to do so in the 400 meters since 1999. Just 24 hours later, the senior from Nathan Hale High School in Seattle will be back on the track for preliminary heats of the 4x400 meters, where he hopes to anchor UW to an improvement over its third-place finish at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships in March. Jackson's road from prep cross country and middle-distance star to All-American collegiate sprinter includes a two-year stop at Eastern Washington University, and a resurgence in the 400 under second-year sprints coach LaMonte Vaughn, Jr. GoHuskies.com correspondent Andre Bayard caught up with Jackson after one of his pre-NCAA workouts to discuss the senior's path to what will be his final NCAA Championship meet.
GoHuskies.com: What are your thoughts about last week's regional meet, where you qualified for NCAAs in the 400 meters, and anchored UW to a win in the 4x400-metet relay?
Bruce Jackson: "I thought it was a great weekend for us as a team. A lot of the people that went to regionals, qualified to nationals, so that is always good for the team and for the school. It will be good to see more purple and gold in the stands representing the school and Seattle."
GH: How good is it going to feel when you guys enter the stadium in Sacramento with such a large team?
Jackson: "It is going to be good. I have been here since the thick and thin, I guess. I went to nationals two years ago as a sophomore, and while we had a lot of girls qualify, the only guys that went were me and the rest of the 4x400-meter relay. Now we have the relay, me in an individual race, an 800-meter runner, a 1500-meter runner, discus, javelin, 10k guys, and a couple of other people, too. It is good to see the team grow in these two years."
GH: To what do you credit your success this year?
Jackson: "I kind of credit my success to perserverence, and the help of my team. I was having a down year early on, because of my injuries early on. I was getting a little down, but my team and their spirit, and watching them succeed, forced to me step my game up. It came alive at regionals, as I qualified for nationals in two events."
GH: Did you know that you are the first UW sprinter to make it to nationals since 2001, and the first 400-meter runner since 1999?
Jackson: "Yeah, I read about that -- since Ja'Warren Hooker, who was the best UW sprinter we have ever had here. It is a good thing to qualify and hear stuff like that."
GH: Between now and until you leave for nationals, what are you going to do mentally to prepare yourself?
Jackson: "I am just going to keep a level head. I am going to go out, and take small steps at a time. I had a big goal of making the U.S. Nationals -- I can still get that goal. My plan didn't really work out as far as injuries, but I am just going to take little steps. I am going to try and get out of the quarters, and make it to the semis, then get out of semis and make it to the finals for the 400-meter, and make it through prelims in the 4x400-meter relay without dropping the stick. I am just going to worry about the little things at practice, working out of the blocks, and my handoffs and stuff."
GH: How well do you think the relay team is going do?
Jackson: "We were third indoors, and we were `that' close to getting second. It was right there in front of us. We worked hard as a team to get there, and I honestly think we can get one place higher than that. LSU is going to be hard to knock down, but we are not going to move to the side and let them win because they are LSU and the collegiate record holders. We are going to go out there and stick our faces and our noses in it."
GH: Thanks for your time, Bruce. Congratulations on a great year and good luck in Sacramento!
Jackson: "Thanks. You're welcome."