Athlete of the Week: Peter Jenkins, Senior, track

In the time it takes to reheat leftover pasta, senior Track and Field runner Peter Jenkins can win an 800m race. Assuming that it takes 1:50.76 to cook that meal, that is exactly what Jenkins did earlier this month at the CU Invitational in Boulder.

It is commonly known in the track and field sphere that the 800m race is the “gut-check” race, the “no-fun” race, the “why-are-you-doing-this-to-your-body” race. This particular race, two full laps around a standard track, combines speed and endurance in an event that pushes the human body to its limit. It is just short enough to require a sprinters speed, yet just long enough to require a bit of distance runner’s endurance. In short, it is the most painful two minutes of racing.

Yet, this is the exact situation that Jenkins puts himself into, time and time again. His converted time of 1:50.76 is the fastest the senior from Littleton has run in his entire career, high school or college. At the time of the CU Invitational, it was the third fastest time posted in all of Division II. As is stands now, Jenkins has the second best time in the RMAC, behind Boris Berian from rival Adams State, and the fourth fastest in the nation.

Sitting in fourth place with his time of 1:50.76, Jenkins is in prime position to compete for an individual national championship. As of this weekend, only 0.44 seconds separates the times of first place through fifth place. If Jenkins can reproduce his CU Invite performance, the 800m runner has a strong chance to bring home his first national championship.

Thanks to Jenkins, and a slew of other stellar performances this season, the Men’s Track and Field team has jumped into the top 20 rankings and were up to #19 last week. With the RMAC Championship meet slated for next week in Pueblo, Colorado, Mines looks to have some of their Cross Country success bleed over into Track and Field. After sending three athletes to the National Championships last season, the current team is raising their expectations as they try to make their way into CSM history.

Jenkins is one of many Orediggers who have the potential to make an impact at the National Championships. But no matter the outcome of the next month, there is no doubt that Jenkins has made his mark here at Mines. For his efforts and successes throughout his career as an Oredigger, Peter Jenkins is this week’s Athlete of the Week.

[Oredigger] Why is the 800m such a difficult race?
[Jenkins] It’s painful because it’s almost as fast as you can go and you have to hold that pace for the whole race. As you get better, it gets easier. Well, maybe not easier, but you get used to it.

If you could relive one track memory, what would it be?
This year at Indoor Conference at Chadron State. It’s a tiny little track and we ran in… the slow heat in the 4×4…It was us and Western [State] and I was anchoring and I got the baton about 10 meters behind their anchor. He was [my] rival in high school and I was like “No. I am not losing this race.”
I caught him on the last turn and our whole team was camped out on the home stretch just cheering me on and screaming. It was an awesome feeling. It was the fastest I’d ever split and we ended up winning our heat and almost got second, just behind Adams State.

What is one other event that you have a lot of respect for?
There’s a couple. The 400 hurdles is definitely there. I watched [Former Oredigger Michael Calhoun] do it for three years. It just looks so tough.

The other is one I didn’t think was tough until recently. The 10k. I would not want to run a 10k on a track. When a fast time is 27 minutes and you’re lucky to be done running after half an hour, that’s crazy. Plus there’s just something crazy about seeing “23 laps to go.” Ugh.

What is the nerdiest thing you have seen on the team?
Oh, I don’t know, we just dissect the science behind everything. My first practice freshman year, everyone was talking about damped harmonic oscillators… I think they were relating it to their grades at Mines over time or something. It totally threw me. I had never heard that on a track team before.

Nerdiest thing you have seen on campus?
I don’t remember what year it was, but on Halloween there was this guy in a full Roman Legion outfit with legit armor and shoes and the helmet. He had his own standard that he was walking around with. I guess it shows that I should be here because I thought it was just awesome.

Favorite class you have taken?
Hmm, I’m trying to find the least awful one. Mechanics of Materials was pretty interesting. Candy Sulzbach made it a fun class.

Least favorite?
Oh, now there are so many to choose from. I don’t know, I’d say I dislike physics fairly strongly, Physics II in particular.

What is one thing you would change about Mines?
A multi-story parking structure. It needs to happen. And permanent ultimate frisbee goals out on Kafadar.

What is one class you would add?
We have Liberal Arts so I say we need the Conservative Arts.

Which events are you looking forward to at the London Olympics?
I’ll definitely watch the 800 and the 4×4. And I’ll probably watch the Pole Vault and Beach Volleyball… It’s cool to see the best in their respective events pushing the limits of the human

If you had free time, what would you do?
Once I’m done with track, I’ll probably go back and play tennis again. And I’m nerdy so I like to play video games and read a lot.

What do you love about the track team?
How we all go through it together and have that shared hardship. And there are some very, very unique things about Mines track teams. You can always tell who we are: the team with laptops and binders open in the middle of the track meet. We’ve got character.

What is one thing Mines has taught you over the past four years?
To just work hard. You may not always succeed, but that is not a reason not to work. With a few exceptions, the people that succeed are the ones that did work hard.

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