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College Track & Field: Sprinting toward dream

Anteaters' Jock begins quest for NCAA title in 800 meters at West Region preliminaries today in Austin, Texas.

May 27, 2010|By Barry Faulkner
  • UC Irvine's Charles Jock is the Big West Conference champion in the 800 meters.
UC Irvine's Charles Jock is the Big West Conference… (Courtesy of UC Irvine )

Whether it's his signature event, the 800 meters, or the anchor leg on the 4x400 relay, Charles Jock almost always outruns the competition.

But after a record-setting season that has included Big West Conference titles in the aforementioned events, the UC Irvine sophomore is still chasing most of his dreams.

Talk among his peers and track and field coaches, as well as Jock himself, is that he just might unleash a finishing kick sufficient enough to propel him down the stretch toward the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

An abundance of talent, a strong work ethic applied to ever-expanding training techniques, and a growing foundation of strategy and toughness forged by an increasing stockpile of competitive experiences, all figure to quicken the pace of Jock's pursuit.

The pursuit of a national championship in the 800 begins today for Jock, who aims to be one of 12 to advance from the NCAA West Region preliminary round at the University of Texas. Two races — the first round at 5:30 p.m. today and the quarterfinals Friday at 4:30 p.m. — will pare the field to half of the 24 runners (12 others from the East Region), that will compete at the NCAA Championships, June 9 through 12 in Eugene, Ore.

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But Jock's biggest ally in this quest for achievement may be the fact that he is quite used to viewing success from a distance.

Jock's parents were born in the Sudan, a country in northeastern Africa in which both poverty and political oppression are common.

Jock was born in neighboring Ethiopia, the fourth of nine children, and came to America in 1992, the family lured by the promise of education and aided by the church and relatives already residing in the United States.

"The reason my parents came here was for education, and the better life that education can bring," Jock said. "They realized that you wouldn't be able to do anything in life without being well-educated."

The Jocks first arrived in Texas, but moved soon thereafter to San Diego, where Jock grew up knowing he was loved, yet also learning about sacrifice and competition that had nothing to do with sports.

"I believe that your experiences will influence all aspects of your life," said Jock, who majors in urban policy planning and design. "So, the experiences I've had as a kid definitely fanned out to athletics and academics."

Jock burst onto the national scene as a senior at Mission Bay High, when he won the CIF State championship in the 800 and finished second at the Nike Outdoor National Championships.

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