‘The Future of the A-10’: Loyola Cross Country’s Woody Jerome

Jerome was awarded A-10 Rookie of The Year.

Loyola’s men’s cross country team competed in the Atlantic-10 Championship Oct. 28, where they took home first place for the second consecutive year. Among the team’s top five finishers was second-year Woody Jerome, who placed fourth with a time of 24:10 in the 8K. Jerome also went home with All-Conference honors and the title of Most Outstanding Rookie. 

During the Sean Earl Lakefront Invitational, Jerome placed 59th running a time of 24:37. 

Head coach Gavin Kennedy said they redshirted Jerome last year so he could improve himself to have the success he did at the conference championships. Kennedy highlighted numerous characteristics to describe Jerome. 

“He’s always learning,” Kennedy said. “He’s certainly a fun guy to be around and the guys thoroughly enjoy him. He’s got his quirks and he knows them, and they are actually fun and it’s really what everyone on the team loves about the guy, is who he is and acts the way he acts, and we love that about Woody.” 

Jerome said he was happy to win Most Outstanding Rookie, although it wasn’t something he was necessarily aiming for. Jerome said he cared more about placing well for the team instead of individual accolades. The team also had a unique mindset as they were competing, particularly against their rival La Salle University.

“We weren’t going in with the mindset that we were defending, we were going more with the mindset that we were attacking to win it, so I think we were relieved when we won it — we were all very happy,” Jerome said. 

Jerome not only has the support of the Ramblers’ cross-country team but feels the love from people back home in Aldershot, England. Jerome said his family was originally skeptical about him running internationally, but they now believe he made the right decision to run in the United States.

Jerome said the team has come together ‘as a group of brothers’ to create a culture where everyone loves one another. He emphasized the unique mentality the team has by running hard not only for themselves but for each other.

A-10 conference champion Chris Devaney said Woody’s drive to contribute to the team is what stands out to him the most about Woody.

“Ever since he’s come to the program, it’s his second year now, it’s clear from his actions and the way he approaches training, and the way he acts around us, and is a good teammate,” Devaney said. “I think shows his drive to contribute to Loyola’s distance running success.”

The runner specifically mentioned the inspirational role his mother has played in his life as she has constantly worked hard to support his family. Jerome said he works hard because he knows his mother does as well.

“This is gonna sound pretty cheesy, but probably my mum as she would get up, look after me and my sister, look after the dog, cook, work,” Jerome said. “If she would put in all the effort to do that for us then I would put in the effort as well.”

Jerome said cross country changed his life by providing him with the opportunity to get an education in the United States. Additionally, he said this opportunity has made him more disciplined and expanded his social group. 

“I’ve been very very grateful for everyone, the coaching, I’ve got really good friends here,” Jerome said. “I really enjoy the academic side of it and just being in a different country is pretty cool. I’m just grateful to be here.” 

Jerome said one of the reasons he chose to run at Loyola was to be coached by Kennedy and to be a part of a sport in America, since it’s not the same in England.

“I think America is really big on sports compared to back home,” Jerome said. “We don’t have anything like what you got here. I came here because of my coach Gavin Kennedy, he’s very well known. I wanted to be under his control, I wanted to be coached by him.”

Devaney said other athletes can learn from Jerome and his attitude in training. 

“Something Woody’s taken in stride is to come into the system and learn from people and to trust the training you do, and trust the system that we’re in and just approach training every day with that drive to get better,” Devaney said.

Kennedy said he has learned to ‘prepare for the unexpected’ from Jerome, as abrupt illnesses, injuries, and equipment malfunctions have all affected Jerome’s time at Loyola.

Kennedy said he always knew Jerome could perform the way he did during the championships even with the difference in pressure between training and a big meet.

“He is learning, he’s growing and he’s maturing, and he is going to do a really good job,” Kennedy said. “Now he is the future of the A -10, freshman of the year, he has done an incredible job, and I’m super excited to see him run his first 10,000 meters at Oklahoma State.” 

Jerome and the rest of the Ramblers can next be seen running at the NCAA Midwest Regionals in Stillwater, Oklahoma Oct.10. 

Featured image by Holden Green | The Phoenix

Sabrina Godinho dos Santos

Sabrina Godinho dos Santos