English Jackson is just having fun with it.

When she first got introduced to the sport of running after Montevideo Middle School physical education teacher Mike Kline noticed her participating in races on the track during races as a seventh-grader, she said it was something she immediately loved.

“Prior to that, I had just played soccer,” said Jackson, who graduated from Spotswood in 2016. “I think I got a little bit of my endurance from the nature of that sport. But I loved it once I picked it up and I continued to love it during my time at Spotswood.”

During her time with the Trailblazers, Jackson was a first-team All-Valley District all four years of her career, also earned two all-region honors, made All-Conference 29 all four years in indoor track and was a member of an all-state 4x400-meter relay team.

That success has carried over now to her college career, where she is a senior at Bridgewater College and was recently named the Old Dominion Athletic Conference women’s cross country runner of the week on Oct. 1 after winning the Hornet Harrier Invitational, which is hosted by Shenandoah University at Kernstown Battlefield.

“I love the culture,” Jackson said. “It is in a great, competitive sport that I liked to pursue. I developed a great group of friends and friends that I still consider close today. That culture and that atmosphere has carried over to my time at Bridgewater.”

After experiencing so much success in high school, Jackson acknowledged there were adjustments she needed to make once she began running on the Division III level.

In 2017, Jackson placed 29th at the ODAC championships. Last season, however, she finished 10th with a 23:38.0 and was second-team All-ODAC selection for the first time.

“It’s just a different beast, I think,” Jackson said. “We increase our mileage a little bit, but there’s also so many other factors with running that I don’t think I considered in high school. We do cardio, non-contact work, lifting. Every aspect of our lives is based around hydration, nutrition, things like that. In high school, we ran and we ran hard. But at the end of the day, we were done.”

Jackson hopes to become an elementary school teacher one day and has found a lot of similarities between learning how to work with children and her running career, she said.

“The idea of patience, hard work, compassion, having mercy for yourself or your students,” Jackson said. “A lot of those ideas transfer over and help me in both aspects of my life. At the end of the day, it’s about time management and knowing both of these areas are something I’m passionate about. I make time for both of them and see both of them as priorities.”

As a senior, Jackson has had a solid career during her time with the hometown Eagles.

She said Bridgewater, which has one of the best cross country/track and field programs in the ODAC, hopes to win a couple of more conference titles this year to its resume.

Jackson also said that she’s trying to make the most of her final year running cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field for such a well-respected program.

“I want to be competitive and enjoy it,” Jackson said. “Knowing this is my last year is big and trying to leave it all out there and putting my heart into it. I want to know that I gave my all to the sport I love because it’s gave a lot to me for the last nine years.”

What the sport has given Jackson is a lot of success, but more importantly, a passion.

“Honestly, at the base of it, it’s just been enjoying it and having a really good supportive group of teammates and coaches that push me,” Jackson said. “They allow me to be myself and have fun with the sport.”

And as long as her teammates, coaches and family continue to allow her to have fun with it, she said she’s making sure she’s appreciating every minute of doing so.

“That’s a big reason why we show up every day,” Jackson said. “When you find joy in what you’re doing, then you pursue it with your whole heart. I think that’s been a big reason for my success.”

Ex-BHS QB Tosses First Division I TD

Former Broadway standout quarterback Kirk Rygol, who left the Gobblers prior to his senior year in 2016 to attend Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill, S.C., has had quite the path to Division I football. But the move has ultimately paid off for him.

Rygol, who was 2014 Valley District Offensive Player of the Year with 1,196 total yards and nine touchdowns and also a second-team All-3A West Region selection as a junior, transferred this year to the University of South Florida after a year at ASA College.

Toward the end of Saturday’s 48-22 win over Connecticut, Rygol entered the game with 1:59 remaining.

After three straight handoffs to Jordan Crokrite and Kelley Joiner, the former Gobblers star connected with Devontre Dukes for a beautiful 33-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone for the Bulls’ final score of the evening.

It was the first touchdown pass for Rygol since transferring to USF.

East Rock’s Butler Heating Up For Pioneers

Former East Rockingham receiver Javon Butler is beginning to heat up in his junior season at Glenville State after back-to-back strong years to open his college career.

This season, Butler has 17 catches for 229 yards and a team-high four touchdowns.

Broadway Grad Serves As Key Cog For CNU O-Line

Six-foot-1, 275-pound offensive lineman Matt Rittenhouse, who is a former Broadway standout and current senior at Christopher Newport, has started all four games this season for the winless Captains.

Rittenhouse, who is a captain for CNU was a first-team all-conference and all-state selection a year ago at right tackle and earned a spot on the New Jersey Athletic Conference Academic team.

The former BHS standout was a four-year starter for the Gobblers and was also a member of the wrestling team, where he placed eighth at the Virginia High School League Group 3A state championships in 2016.

SHS Grad Shining For Ferrum Soccer

Spotswood graduate Chris Resendiz is shining in his senior season with Ferrum men’s soccer.

This year, the 5-foot-9, 180-pounder has started four games and played in all nine while scoring two goals and dishing out three assists for a total of seven points.

As a junior last season, Resendix finished with three goals and three assists in 11 games played.

Alderfer Named ODAC Runner of the Week

Former Broadway standout Isaac Alderfer earned his first-ever ODAC Runner of the Week award on Oct. 1 after finishing as the conference’s top performer at the Hornet Harrier, which is hosted by Shenandoah University at Kernstown Battlefield.

Alderfer finished ninth overall out of 193 runner with a time of 19:52.9 on the six-kilometer course and helped the EMU men finish seventh with 194 points.

Contact Cody Elliott at 574-6284 or celliott@dnronline.com | Follow Cody on Twitter: @Cody_DNRSports

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