Already accepted to Kennesaw State University, Jackson entered her senior year at Evans High School thinking she would be going to college but not running track.
That changed Friday when she signed a letter of intent to run for the Division I Jacksonville State University Gamecocks in Jacksonville, Ala.
“I wasn’t sure, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be fast enough or good enough running in college, especially at a Division I school,” said Jackson. “People just started contacting me and I just started visiting schools and it opened up my mind to I can really run at school.”
It didn’t hurt that assistant track coach Ryan Bennett reached out to his alma mater, which competes in the Ohio Valley Conference,
“Coach Bennett was sending my times out to different colleges and he told me about Jacksonville,” Jackson said. “It was kind of like at the last minute so I was like why not and I just went to Jacksonville State and ended up loving it.”
Bennett, who is impressed by Jackson’s work ethic, pushed for Jacksonville State.
“When I saw what she could do, I talked to Coach (Asha) Gibson down there and I told her what she could do,” Bennett said.
Jackson will run cross country in the fall to help build endurance for the track season, where she plans to run the 800 meter. She placed third in the 800 at the 2013 Region 2-AAAAA championships, running her fastest time in the event. She fell just short of qualifying for the state meet the next week at sectionals which fell on Evans’ prom night.
“I was so busy running around, getting ready for prom that I was exhausted,” Jackson said. “I didn’t eat and I didn’t prepare mentally or physically. It was hard. I look back at it and I shouldn’t have gone to stupid prom,” she said laughing.