Webster track athlete named SLIAC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year

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Jacob Ridenhour won first in the 60m dash and the 200m dash during the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Track Championships on Feb. 27. 

The year of 2020 was unexpected, to say the least, especially for then-junior, Jacob Ridenhour. He had just qualified for nationals in the 200m for indoor track before the season was brought to an end due to COVID-19. In that same qualifying meet, he had taken No. 11 for the 100m race. Going to nationals was not a new thing for Ridenhour –his sophomore year, he qualified for nationals in the 60m.

“I remember running and not being able to see my time after the race. The only thing I saw was my 6-foot-10-inch coach jumping up and down. That’s when I knew I had a good time,” Ridenhour said.

Ridenhour grew up in the small town of Jerseyville, Illinois with two older siblings. Baseball was his sport at the time, but now he would much rather watch the game in person.

“It’s much more fun that way,” Ridenhour said.

The baseball-player-turned-track-athlete didn’t even start running track until his senior year in high school. Even going into Webster, he was going to play soccer.  He eventually gave up that sport his sophomore year to focus on track. Ridenhour, now a senior, runs the 60m, 200m, 4×4, and the open 400m for indoor and 100m, 200m, 4×1, 4×4. 

“Track is the hardest sport I’ve played, but I love competing and racing people,” Ridenhour said.

When getting ready for a meet, some might listen to hype music or sad music. Ridenhour, however, prefers to listen to motivational videos on YouTube. Having people such as The Rock in his ear right before a race prepares him for his meets. That is exactly who he listened to going into the latest meet at Principia College. Ridenhour ran 6.88 in the 60m which is just under his personal best, and a 22.32 in the 200m, which despite not being his best, still ranks sixth in the nation. 

Webster athlete Jacob Ridenhour runs during a track meet. Photo contributed by Larry Radloff.

Ridenhour’s goals for this year are to be Webster’s first national champion, qualify for three events to win the team trophy and qualify for the 2021 Olympic Trials in Tokyo, Japan. 

Ridenhour, an accounting and finance major, now works an internship at Ultra Electric. He plans to work here after he graduates. In his spare time, his favorite hobby is playing golf. This past summer he played over 20 times. 

Ridenhour also loves country music, playing volleyball and bowling in his free time.

Ridenhour offered advice to someone trying to be a collegiate athlete. 

“The offseason means more than people think. You have to show up ready … put in the work. As a freshman, I was 145 pounds. I gained 15 pounds of muscle over that summer and cut a half second off his 100m and one and a half second off the 200m all because of the work put in.”

The St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) Indoor Track Championships was held on Feb. 27 at Principia College. Ridenhour took first in the 60m dash running a 6.81, breaking the school record making him the number two runner in the NCAA DivisionIII this season. Ridenhour also finished first in the 200m dash, running a 22.35, and second in the 4×400 meter relay, running a 3:31.19. The team finished second overall for the second consecutive year, and Ridenhour was named the SLIAC Indoor Track Athlete of the Year. 

The date for the next indoor meet has not been decided, but due to his times in the 60 and 200m dashes this season, Ridenhour is anticipated to earn an invitation to compete at the Division III Elite Indoor Championships on March 12 through13.

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Iland Shurn