Mar 28, 2006

Jordan McDougal runs in Japan

by David Thompson

Most of the students at Liberty University are familiar with the name Josh McDougal. He has graced the screens on “90 Seconds at Liberty” numerous times, making news in his cross-country running competitions, most recently picking up his fifth All-American honors.

But the name some students may not be as familiar with — though many certainly are — is that of his little brother, Jordan. The younger McDougal is sure to make Liberty highlights in the near future, as he is set to run in the Junior Men’s 8km cross-country race in the upcoming International Association of Athletics Federations championship, in Fukuoka, Japan.

Of the six qualifying spots, McDougal secured his place by finishing fifth with a time of 24 minutes, 9 seconds.

“It was really cool,” said McDougal, of qualifying. “I was expecting to finish in the top six, but it was still great.”

When he runs in Japan, the race will take on an entirely new look, and add an unfamiliar element to his mentality during the race.

“It’s my first time in a World Championship meet,” said McDougal.

He talked about his mental preparation for the meet, the main element of which, for him, is visualizing different points in the race and constructing various scenarios based on different possible situations. However, McDougal was not slow to give credit to whom it was due.

“I’ll have to leave everything up to God,” he said.

Despite the pressure of competition and the social and academic pressures that may come with competing on the cross-country team, running is not all work for McDougal. Sometimes, he said, he enjoys just “hanging out with the guys.”

“We’ve got a real close team,” he said.

The competition in Japan will be a good opportunity to build his own reputation out of the shadow, so to speak, of his brother. That is not to say that he feels that he must break free from his brother’s reputation. For McDougal, the two biggest advantages to running at Liberty are the Christian environment and the fact that his brother attends the same school.

The two have trained together for quite some time, and McDougal says that his older brother is something of a coach to him. Unlike many sibling pairs who get into fierce competition when competing within the same sport, McDougal looks up to his brother as a personal motivator, and maintains a good relationship with Josh despite the certain opportunities to create a fierce rivalry.

“We’ve been tight since we were kids,” he said.

In Japan, McDougal hopes to finish within the top 30 competitors, though he said “it would be great to finish top 20.”

Regardless of the outcome, McDougal, a freshman, likely has much more running in front of him. As a career, he plans to run professionally, as long as he can, then to coach the sport, hopefully at the Division-I level.

McDougal came to Liberty from Peru, N.Y. A major determining factor in the move was the fact that he was looking for a Division-I Christian college, where he could take part in these competitions on a higher level than some Christian schools could offer. Among those he considered were Samford University, in Birmingham, Ala., and Belmont University in Tennessee.

No doubt Liberty is glad to have made an impression good enough to impress McDougal.

Contact David Thompson at dbthompson@liberty.edu.

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