Jackson’s career one of athletic, academic merit

FDSH grad, UNI senior placed on MVC Scholar-Athlete team

Submitted photo Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Alex Jackson, a senior at the University of Northern Iowa, competes in the steeple chase earlier this month.

CEDAR FALLS — Alex Jackson’s time at Northern Iowa is coming to an end, but whether it was on the track or in the classroom, the Fort Dodge Senior High graduate put his best foot forward.

Jackson was recently named to the Missouri Valley Conference’s Scholar-Athlete team following the 2019 outdoor track season.

In his two years as a Panther, the Iowa Central graduate ran cross country and track both seasons while maintaining a cumulative GPA of 4.0. Jackson was one of 10 Panthers to have a 4.0 this season.

“Who said you can’t be a nerd and an athlete?” Jackson laughed. “It’s a huge honor (making Scholar-Athlete team) and I accept it as such, but I attribute it all to my family, teammates, coaches, mentors, friends and many long, oft-frustrating (but always uplifting) talks with the Big Guy Upstairs.

“Looking back, it’s not my accomplishments that I care about — although, at the time, I unknowingly believed those were all that mattered. Rather, I remember the counseling sessions on long runs, the unrelenting (and loving) sarcasm from our athletic trainers, and the relationships I’ve made along the way.”

While trying to balance practice, athletic competition, studies and church, Jackson was able to find a plan to maintain high standards.

“My first thought (about how Jackson did it) was ‘only by the grace of God,’ which is true, but I also did my best to manage my time well,” Jackson said. “The times I set aside to study, I studied without distraction; the times I was at practice, I was fully engaged in workouts, rehab and team camaraderie. The times I spent volunteering at church, I was focused on being present and building relationships.

“To be succinct, I learned how to allot time for my priorities (namely academics, athletics and church), maximize my efforts in each circumstance, and, all glory to God alone, success followed.”

After graduating from Fort Dodge, Jackson competed in distance events and cross country for Iowa Central before coming to Cedar Falls.

“Just like it takes a village to raise a kid, it definitely took a village to propel me in running and life in general,” Jackson said. “I point to my everyday rocks — my parents, Joe and Teresa, and my role model of a sister, Tara. Every coach I’ve had along the way, Tim Hansen (FDSH), Dee Brown, Jeremiah Feine and the late Denny Myers (Iowa Central), along with Dave Paulsen and Alexina Wilson (at Northern Iowa), as well as many prayer warriors from Fort Dodge to Cedar Falls.

“I cannot thank them enough for their love, support and direction.”

While competing in track this season, Jackson finished first at the Black & Gold Premier in the 3,000. In 2018 indoor track, he set a career-best mark in the 1,000 at the Panther Open.

In the outdoor season, Jackson won the steeplechase at the Tom Botts meet, and was third in the 3,000-steeplechase at the Gibson Invite. He was also part Northern Iowa’s 2018 Missouri Valley Conference outdoor track championship, which the Panthers won by one point.

In cross country, Jackson finished 10th overall in his first race with Northern Iowa at the Mayflower Day Open.

Jackson will graduate in December after completing his student teaching in science education in Cedar Falls.