GUYTON — Jacob Mitchell’s dedication to his chosen sports is obvious.
“I actually get to witness Jacob quite often because he lives in my neighborhood,” said Jeff Faith, athletic director at South Effingham. “He is running constantly.”
Mitchell was rewarded for his steadfastness Thursday as the Mustangs standout in cross country and track signed a letter of intent to attend USCB.
“I think what really motivated me the most was watching my first varsity cross country race,” Mitchell said in response to a question from South Effingham cross country and track coach Laura Soles seconds before he put his pen to paper. “Just to see how hard they worked over the summer — it made me want to be a part of that. I’ve worked so hard for it ever since.”
Mitchell helped the Mustangs post a school-best finish in the state cross country meet last fall.
“My best memory would have to be finishing second in the state,” he said. “Our team worked so hard over the summer and during the season. It was just amazing for that to happen.
“It was amazing to see how our hard work paid off in the end.”
Soles said Mitchell has grown into a leader consumed by hunger for victory. Finishing anything but first pains him.
The coach explained, “It’s been really hard for him this year because he says, ‘I am a senior and I am supposed to win.’ I’m like, ‘Jacob, are your times better?’ He’s like, ‘They are better than they have ever been.’
“I said, ‘Then Jacob, you are a winner. You can’t help the competition and your team is Tyler (Phillips), the freshman, and you’ve got to realize that.’ He wants to win and he is so focused on winning.”
Mitchell will continue to in cross country and track in college. He is currently competing in the 800-, 1600-, and 3200-meter runs in track, plus some relays.
“I’ve always liked cross country because it just seems a lot more fun,” Mitchell said. “I do like track because it’s very competitive.”
Mitchell, set to study computational science, will be reunited with some of his former South Effingham teammates when he joins the Sand Sharks. Their presence figured into his decision but there were other factors.
“I picked USCB mostly because of the location and the campus is amazing,” he said. “Their academic and athletic programs are great, and I think I will do good at USCB.”