When Hofstra Cross Country assistant coach Jessie Petersen pushes her athletes to succeed, she is truly practicing what she preaches.
Petersen, fresh off of her first year with the Pride, qualified for the 2016 United States Olympic Team Trials in the women’s marathon by running a 1:14.44 in a half-marathon in November, with the qualifying time being 1:15.00.
“I couldn’t have reached this without getting my job at Hofstra,” said Petersen. “It made running fun.”
Petersen now advances to the trials in Los Angeles on Feb. 13 of next year, with a shot at making the Olympics in Rio, Brazil in August of 2016. Only three women get the chance to qualify, among a field that will be wide open to anyone who makes it under the first cut.
Making this event wasn’t a long-term goal, as her training came along with getting the job on head coach Vincent Giambanco’s staff. Having just graduated from Syracuse in May, where she was an All-ACC selection, Petersen began running with Giambanco consistently, and eventually convinced herself to take aim at making the trials.
Petersen reached what she called her goal on Nov. 22 at the Philadelphia Marathon Weekend, her first try at making the time. But now her practice regime will have to change, as she ran the 13.1-mile event there, but will have to go for the full 26.2-mile marathon at the trials.
But her ability to get into the kind of shape she is in now is partly thanks to the structure of her role with the cross-country team.
“My role is part-time, so I had the rest of my day to train,” said Petersen. “I had time to go to the gym, recover, run and more because my days with the team was usually no more than two hours.”
Getting herself set for the qualifying marathon wasn’t easy, either, as she never truly had a gauge on her ability to run along side other women, only with herself and her athletes.
“You don’t truly know your shape because you’re not running with other women,” Petersen said.
Though she should be commended for her hard work, she continues to owe her performance, at least in part, to Hofstra.
“It got me in a routine,” said Petersen. “Getting this job at Hofstra has been amazing.”