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Hart running phenom Jessica Jazwinski now a two-time All-American, bound for NC State

Last weekend, Pirates junior placed ninth at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals in San Diego.

Hart junior Jessica Jazwinski placed ninth in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, at Balboa Park in San Diego. She ran a time of 17:45.9. It’s the second straight year Jazwinski has earned All-American status. ( for Foot Locker Cross Country Championships)

Jessica Jazwinski is already fast on the cross-country course and track, but she is primed to turn it up another notch in her running career.

Five days ago, the Hart High School junior phenom ran aggressively from the start en route to her ninth-place finish in the Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals in San Diego. She’s an All-American for the second straight year.

On Thursday, Jazwinski announced via Facebook that she’s committed to continuing her cross country, track, and academic pursuits at Division I NC State University. In her post, she wrote, “I’m stickin with the red and white but … Pirate——>Wolf.”

“I am so excited to verbally commit to NC State Track & Field and Cross Country,” she continued. “I am so grateful for everyone who has supported me along my running journey. Thank you to my friends, coaches and, most importantly, family. I would not be here without any of you. I am so excited to continue my academic and athletic career with the Wolf Pack.”

Jazwinski is two-time defending champion in the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Division 3 cross country state finals race. This fall, she broke the Division 3 state meet record with a time of 17:08.8.

On Saturday (Dec. 9) at Balboa Park in San Diego, Jazwinski flew off the starting line. She sat in third place for a good stretch. Jazwinski’s aggressive start caught up to her in the second mile, she admitted, but she regrouped for a strong finish with a time of 17:45.9. She was the highest-placing high school junior in the nationals race.

Two weeks earlier in the Foot Locker Cross Country Midwest Regional Championships, Jazwinski posted a fourth-place time in 17:32.1.

Hart’s Jessica Jazwinski crosses the finish line in her runaway win during the West Michigan Conference Mega Meet cross country event Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, at Mason County Fairgrounds in Ludington, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

“I’m really excited,” she said in a phone interview with CatchMark after her nationals race last Saturday. “I went out a little hard — I went out at like 5:07 for the first mile — so I went out a little hard, but I was going for the win. I was going for it.

“I died the second mile, but then I finished strong so I’m overall happy with my performance.”

In last year’s nationals, then title-sponsored by Champs Sports, Jazwinski placed 11th with a time of 17:43.4. She finished fourth in last year’s regional as well with a clocking of 17:37.7.

Elizabeth Leachman, a sophomore from San Antonio, won this year’s nationals race with a time of 16:50.7. Allie Zealand, a senior from Forest, Va., was runner-up (17:04.5).

Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Rachel Forsyth, the MHSAA Division 1 state champion who is taking her talents to Michigan State University, placed third (17:08.3) after racing to a commanding lead from the opening gun.

“I definitely think this year was a really, really tough field. I was super excited to compete against everybody,” Jazwinski said. “Definitely, compared to last year, I learned a lot more. Last year I didn’t feel like I was racing and this year I was focused a little bit more on it. But just always remembering to have fun.”

It’s been a memorable 2023 for Jazwinski when it comes to her running achievements.

In June, she helped lead Hart to a second-straight MHSAA Division 3 track and field state title by placing first in the 3200-meter run, second in the 1600, and third in the 800. In addition to those all-state achievements, Jazwinski was part of the Pirates’ fourth-place 4×800 relay at the state finals.

Jazwinski said that the weather conditions at Balboa Park last weekend were similar to those in 2022, albeit a little warmer perhaps.

“It’s just a fair course. It’s a hard course, so it’s always going to be hard and whoever has the best day is going to win,” said Jazwinski, who has every intention of going for the nationals win next December.

“I was definitely going for it (last weekend). I did not expect to go out that fast, but I guess that’s what my body told me to do. I died a little, but I’m really happy that I was able to finish really strong.”

Photos by for Foot Locker Cross Country Championships

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Suzanne Ritchie

    December 15, 2023 at 5:41 pm

    How could she not be the CatchMark Player of the Year?! How, because all schools have different amounts of students and Hart can’t compete with Ludington. Find a better and more appropriate and fair way to honor these athletes than a popularity contest!!

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