October 2, 2003
Unassuming Cowley runner coming on strong
Running with Josephat Boit, the all-time record holder in the 8,000-meters, Cowley County Community College sophomore Jake Conley’s solid performances can sometimes go unnoticed.
Conley finished in the top 20 in each of his first three cross country races this season, and then followed up those performances with a personal-best time of 26 minutes,16 seconds in the 8,000-meter Missouri Southern Stampede held Sept. 20 in Joplin, Mo.
The Cowley coaches have definitely not overlooked Conley’s strong sophomore season.
“Jake has made a step up as an athlete,” Cowley head coach Mark Phillips said. “He’s improved by leaps and bounds. If it weren’t for (Joesphat) Boit, he’d be our best runner ever. We want him to leave here as our second-best runner ever.”
Conley came to Cowley from Rogers, Ark., where he finished in the top 15 at the state meet his senior year of high school. He then went on to earn All-Jayhawk Conference Eastern Division honors as a freshman at Cowley, and placed 26th at the national meet with a time of 28:48.4.
“I knew I wanted to go to a community college because it’s a good stepping stone to run for an NCAA Division I school,” Conley said. “The coaches here really know what they are doing. Our distance coach (Rob Hayes) is very knowledgeable in distance running.”
Conley’s competitive spirit, once the race begins, is what has impressed Phillips the most.
“He’s so nice that sometimes I would wonder if he had that bone you need to be competitive,” Phillips said. “But this year we’re seeing it, and it’s real exciting to see. He had some good races last year, but not like this year.”
Conley’s best finish came at the Tigers’ home invitational on Sept. 12, when he placed second to Boit in the three-mile race. Conley and Boit’s success have vaulted the Tigers to No. 3 in the latest cross country rankings.
“It’s been great to be with a bunch of guys that are determined to do good,” Conley said. “My team goal is for us to finish in the top three at nationals, and individually I would like to place higher than I did last year at nationals.”
Conley is majoring in communications.