The Delray Beach-Atlantic Senior has verbally committed to, and will continue her running career at the University of Tennessee (UT) beginning next fall. Areson, owner of the fastest mile in FL history (4:45.01c) chose UT after an exhausting recruiting trip stretch that lasted from September till Halloween weekend. She began at the University of North Carolina where she met other harriers such as Nicole Blood and Brie Felnagle. Next up was the University of Oregon where she was able to spend time in the "running capital" of the world (Eugene), and view the shrines to Bill Bowerman and Steve Prefontaine. "They worship Pre" said Areson. Then she stayed a little closer to home and visited the University of Florida. A few weeks after that, Areson made her way up to the University of Virginia, home of one of the most mystique campuses in the country. Her final visit landed her in Knoxville at UT. "After the first three hours, I knew I was going there," said Areson.
So what made this middle distance queen so sure of her decision? "J.J. is really cool and down to earth." One of the most crucial factors in her decision was the coaching staff. Head coach J.J. Clark has gained the reputation of being one of the top middle-distance coaches in the country. Clark's resume is a long one. He has guided and coaches his athletes to over 44 All-American honors, 7 indoor/outdoor national titles (800/1500/mile/3000/DMR), an indoor track national team title, and has received numerous coaching honors in Track and Field/Cross Country during his tenures at the University of Florida, and now at UT. Currently, his Lady Vols Cross country team is ranked 15th in the national poll, and have won three straight SEC titles.
Another factor was the teammates she would be training with and the team chemistry. "I really felt that all the girls are trying to make each other better, and they all got along" Of course, it does not hurt that Areson will be training with the likes of current freshman Sarah Bowman, owner of the 2nd fastest high school mile of all-time (4:36). A familiar face will be fellow Florida harrier Kelly Parish who committed to UT in October. Who knows, they may even be roommates next year.
Jackie Areson can hold her own on the grass (17:40 5k PR), but has had most of her success on the track. She won the 2A 800m title as a sophomore, 3A 800m title last year, and looks to win the 4A title in the same event this year. She is a two time All-American in the mile. Also, she is the 3rd fastest returning miler in the country, and has high hopes of competing for a national title in the mile indoors at Nike Indoor Nationals in March, and then outdoors at the Nike Outdoor National meet in June. Areson attributes her success to her fierce work ethic, and god-given abilities. With those two ingredients, Areson will continue to represent Florida well on the national stage and for years to come in the SEC and beyond.