‘Jock’eying For the Fast Track

Finishing first across the finish line is a track star’s dream, and for sophomore Charles Jock there will be many ribbons to cross during his UCI career.

Jock finished first in the 800 meter event at the Cal/Nevada Championships at UCLA’s Drake Stadium, March 28. Not only did Jock stand out for winning the event with a time of 1:47.46, but he broke a 32-year-old school record previously held by former UCI All-American and Olympian Steve Scott. The former record held by Scott was 1:47.6.

“I have actually been trying to break the record since last year,” Jock said. “My goal was to break it last year, but I wasn’t [mentally] ready. I was still getting used to the training. I am doing much better this year and feel like I have improved.”

Scott, a USA Track and Field Hall of Fame member, was present at the Cal/Nevada Championships and presented Jock with a plaque after he victoriously accomplished his feat.

Scott himself set the record his senior year at UCI in 1978 and was regarded as one of the best mile-runners of his generation. Jock is two years ahead of Scott (comparing their UCI athletic resumes), which makes Jock’s talent worth watching as he has the potential to shatter the UCI record books.

[At the Cal/Nevada Championships], I was actually going for the meet record which was 1:48.5,” Jock said. “I wasn’t even considering going for the school record.”

Before Jock dreamed of breaking records held by Olympic runners, he competed in high and long jump events at Mission Bay High School in San Diego, as well as four years of basketball. His dazzling career may not have flourished into the track star he has become today if it wasn’t for his high school coach who asked him to come out for the team.

“It was all by chance,” Jock said. “I came out my sophomore year and was a jumper. I wasn’t very serious at all.  But my junior year I went to state and realized I could do well.”

The UCI track and field program, which is not generally regarded as a top-notch destination, made a major splash in landing Jock. However, Jock did contemplate going elsewhere before his freshman year.

“I had offers from big schools,” Jock said. “But since coming to Irvine, I have made good connections and felt a part of a family. The coaches truly care about you here and our program is definitely up and coming.”

Besides running the 800 meter and 4×400 meter relay, Jock likes playing video games with his roommates, and is currently taking on the adventure game Oblivion.

Academically, Jock is an Urban Planning and Design major in the School of Social Ecology. He plans on obtaining his degree regardless of his future athletic endeavors.  However, he might have to put his academic career on hold if he successfully makes the U.S. Olympic team in June.

“I tried out for the [National] team last year, but I didn’t make it,” Jock said disappointedly. “One of my goals is to make the US National team because I would like to compete in the 2012 London Olympics.”

Jock would first have to compete in a Regional qualifying meet in order to move on to the National meet starting June 23 through the 27th at Drake University.

Jock also anchors the last leg of the men’s 4×400 meter relay.

“I would have to say that it’s the most fun to run because it’s exciting for me,” Jock said. “We have a good team so I think we will do well throughout the season.”

Somewhat humorously, Jock hopes his coaches will someday let him run the 200 meter event, but most likely his chance to run short distance won’t happen because of a chance of injury. Surprisingly, Jock has been quietly battling a lower back injury which did not stop him from breaking Scott’s record.

“It has been bothering me a little since before the Cal/Nevada meet,” Jock said. “But once you start a race and everyone is running next to you, your adrenaline starts flowing. All you think about is the track and the finish line. ”

Jock credits his mental toughness for blocking out the pain in his back, and being able to persevere and be among the greatest track athletes in UC Irvine history.

“I actually hate running,” Jock said.  “I just love competing.”

Without a doubt, Jock has a promising future ahead of him, whether he chooses to represent our country at the Olympic level or as an urban planner to build communities across the nation.