Story and photo by Riley Lourens

ASU fighter, Saad Awad  said, “If you want to be the best, you have to train like the best.” Many student athletes take this to heart.

Sophomore Jaklyn Smith embraces her different talents all year round. With cross country in the fall, swim in the winter, and track in the spring, Smith never gets a break.

High school sports bring people together. Smith said, “I like the environment. Everyone seems so close”

Smith played soccer until track season freshmen year. After being successful in cross country the fall before, she decided to run track and leave soccer behind.

“I feel like this year I was a lot closer to Griffin because I’ve had him for two years now and we train all year so we always see Griffin,” said Smith.

Girls swim and dive coach, Colleen Gibler, was thrilled with what Jaklyn brought to the pool this year. “She’s a consistently hard worker and has a very positive attitude. Whatever challenge I throw her way, she always says ‘Yeah okay, I think I can do that’ then she goes after it and does,” Gibler said.

Smith is “a very active girl,” said Gibler. This past swim season, Smith never really had the chance to step up as a leader for the team because of outside conflicts, but Gibler hopes to see find her place as a leader in the future.  

When Gibler was in high school she participated in many sports, and activities outside of school. She tries her best to be understanding when her athletes have other priorities besides swim.

“I raced professionally, and balanced running, swimming, and biking. I want them to all know that their goals have to be in line if they’re going to do more sports,” said Gibler.

Although Gibler would never discourage her girls from being involved in different sports, she explains how there are also set backs.

“You can’t expect to reach peak swimming performance if you’re also running at the same time, but you can expect to be in better shape at the end. If you did just zoom in on one you would be better at it,” said Gibler.

Off season is a different story though. “If you run in the off season it helps you,” said Gibler. “If they’re not going to swim in the off season they got to be patient in the first 6-8 weeks during the transformation of the different muscles and Jaklyn definitely is patient.”

While Smith has been swimming for awhile, she’s gotten into running the past few years.

“I feel like I have a lot more pressure in cross country to do better. Going into swim I was just kind of doing it as a break from running so I didn’t have that mental set I had to make it to state,” said Smith.

Head girls track and cross country coach, Jesse Griffin, loves Smith’s motivation and hard work.

Griffin said, “I appreciate the fact that she works hard, has a good background from a lot of sports, and she’s got a good attitude. I assume that’s from just being involved in all those sports and trying to be her very best.”

Griffin understands that running is challenging and a mental break is needed for some people. With that in mind, Griffin said, “I actually encourage her to do swimming if that’s what she wants to do.”

Griffin is very intense about his training schedule. With his top runners running all year round, Griffin said, “I think we just have a culture here at West, if you want to be good at what we’re doing, you better have a good work ethic or you’re going to be left behind.”

Griffin tries his best to have a solid relationship with all of his runners. “I feel like this year I was a lot closer to Griffin because I’ve had him for two years now and we train all year so we always see Griffin,” said Smith.

While both coaches want Smith’s top performance all year round, they respect each other’s workout plans and are grateful Smith’s schedule doesn’t intersect between swimming and running very often.