Q&A with Nashua North cross country runner Yassine Jakib

Courtesy photo After battling through some tough injuries following the cross country season, senior Yassine Jakib is back on track for Nashua North this winter.

NASHUA – When his dad, a marathoner with a 3:14 at Boston on his resume, signed up Yassine Jakib for cross country before his freshman year at Nashua North, the kid went kicking and screaming.

Now a senior, Jakib is still kicking but the screaming is done.

“I love running,” said the Titans’ three-sport distance man.

Fresh off a solid campaign in cross country (17th in Division I) and deep into the college process, Jakib took time out from his demanding schedule to share some thoughts on life on the track and in the classroom.

So Yassine, it feels like you are a bit of a late bloomer. Talk about that.

“I’ve only been running for four years now. I was always a basketball player. After sophomore year, I gave up basketball. I was pretty good at basketball, started varsity as a sophomore, but I wasn’t having fun with it. My goal forever was to play college basketball. I just thought about it, realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I had a huge change of heart. Now, I love running even more.”

Well, it seems like you’ve been pretty good over the last four years, placing at states in both track and cross country. What’s the secret to your success?

“It’s definitely our coaching. Our coach Artie (Arthur Kobs) has just been awesome. He’s constantly had great runners. He sets the mindset. He instills it. He’s going to make you good, even if you don’t think you can be good. For me, all four years, everything has gone the way he said it was going to be back when I started as a freshman.”

So talk about that for a second. You’ve put in a lot of miles. What’s your favorite memory?

“My proudest moment so far is breaking 4:30 in the mile last spring, I was having a really bad season before that, and that was huge. It helped me realize more of the potential I had and helped me get through the season.”

How are things going this winter? I know the Titans team looks very strong again. Where are you at?

“I’ve only raced once so far. I had an injury, IT band syndrome, and I’m just getting over that. This past week was my first real week of training. Last week was a rust-buster (he took 3rd out of 24 runners in the 600), and everything felt fine. Everything should be normal, right through the state meet.”

Any goals for this year?

“I want to win the 1000 (indoors). I was third last year. Hopefully I can get back into into it quick, I want it, that’s the goal.”

How is everything else? Are you getting it done in school?

“I’m pushing myself. I’ve been taking all honors and AP classes. I get more A’s than B’s. I’m in the top 15 percent of the class.

Do you have a favorite class?

“It changes every year. This year, it’s my AP Literature class with Mr. (Chris) Saunders. That whole class, it’s been super-challenging. We’re talking high level discussions. I like it a lot. “Right now, we’re reading the “Turn of the Screw.” It’s tough, but it’s been pretty good so far.

“I also really like science. I’m looking at a biology or bio-tech major in college. I’m in AP Calculus too. I love that environment, being in a room of really intelligent people.”

So college is in the works?

“I want to run in college. It’s a matter of figuring out the right school – Lowell, UNH, Assumption, Fordham and Stonehill – just whichever school is the best fit for me.”

How about outside of school?

“I work at the Saucony Outlet in Merrimack. There’s a nice discount and they’re my favorite running shoes, too. I also volunteer once a week at Lowell General Hospital. I want to go into the medical field, and that is helping make me more comfortable there.”

Finally, just tell us all, what makes you really happy?

“Running every day, I don’t think anything beats it. When I was hurt and couldn’t run (from about Thanksgiving to Christmas) I didn’t have that same energy in my life as I do when I’m running.”