Created on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 Written by AARON LaBATT
Racing at the highest level is something Jasmine Smith has become accustomed to over the years.
Now, the West Liberty-Salem senior standout will take her talents to NAIA distance power Shawnee State University to compete in both cross country and track and field.
“I’m really excited about going there,” said Smith. “I liked my first visit there and everyone was very welcoming. After a few weeks, the coach called me and was really nice. They let me know they really wanted me to be a part of their program and that they wanted me there. That really helped me make my decision.”
“I think Shawnee is a great fit for Jasmine,” said WL-Salem girls cross country and track coach Ann Vogel. “They have a great coach and Jasmine is such a coachable kid. She will make an immediate impact for them.
“Jasmine has a very strong work ethic. She has great time management skills, which is needed more in college than in high school. She is also very passionate about running. She’ll get there and buy into the program and be a great teammate.”
Smith was a member of the WL-Salem girls cross country team that earned four state meet appearances. She finished 29th and 43rd the past two years at state, helped WL-Salem win a regional title in 2011 and earned Ohio Heritage Conference first-team honors all four years of high school.
In track, Smith was a state qualifier last spring as a member of the girls 3,200 relay team.
With such lofty big meet experience, Smith feels she will be able to handle the grind of high-level college races.
“I think that will be a big help,” said Smith. “I’ve been in a lot of big meets over my career, so I think I should do well with that. I won’t be shocked by the size of the meets, but I might be shocked a little by the competition there.”
“Competing at the highest level will definitely be a benefit for running in college,” said Vogel. “It will be great to see her improve and reach goals she never thought she could. The sky is the limit for her.”
Batting the toll it takes to compete in two sports at the college level is not easy either, but Smith is confident she will adjust well to the work load.
“I feel I’ll be okay doing two sports while I’m there,” said Smith. “Their coach had a girl who did two sports and had the same major as me and she made it through. It will be tough at first, but I’ll be okay. Everyone there will be able to help me through the process and get used to the environment.”
The Bears’ cross country team has won the Mid-South Conference the past three years and finished 23rd at the NAIA national meet.
“It’s sad to be leaving West Liberty,” said Smith. “At the same time, though, I’m ready to make history with another school. It’s good to be going to another successful program.”
“Jasmine has been one of those consistent runners, has never let us down and has never had a bad race,” added Vogel. “She steps up to the plate and performs for the team. She is a team player and has been a great example for the younger girls in our program. I’m blessed to have been her coach. You can never replace a Jasmine Smith.”