Jan. 26, 2009
ATHENS, Ohio -
Jessica Kestler has had quite a time at Ohio University and has been busier than most students can imagine.
Any athlete will tell you that balancing school and an athletic obligation can be a daunting and challenging task. On top of balancing classes, they are constantly training to have their body in peak physical condition for any upcoming season.
For Jessica, trying to earn a graduate degree and train for competition, January becomes a very important time.
"Right now is very difficult for me," says Kestler. "I think as the peak of outdoor season approaches, just trying to handle improving your performance is stressful. Furthermore, the regular time commitment of a collegiate athlete is difficult to handle with school work, extra-curricular activities, and personal situations."
Jessica, a native of Maineville, Ohio, began running during grade school before going to Mt. Notre Dame High School. She says she was drawn to track because of the unity of teamwork and the ability to stand out in individual events, as well. Her attention to the unity and hard work has made her a very valuable asset to the Ohio track team, as well as head coach Clay Calkins.
Calkins has been very impressed with Jessica's work over the past couple seasons and considers her a very important leader as the team moves into the outdoor season this spring, as Jessica only has eligibility remaining for the outdoor season.
"She had a great year of training," says Calkins, "so we're hoping for big things, and hopefully we can get her back to regionals in the 400m hurdles."
"She's a hard worker and very dedicated. She's a self-motivated person that inspires others as well. Her work ethic has come along and gotten stronger each year. She came into the program, got better as a freshman, and came back as a sophomore and placed at the conference championship. That's a great feat because we have a very competitive conference. To do that, it takes a lot of work."
Calkins' regional reference comes from Kestler's trip to the NCAA Mideast Regional, where she placed 19th as a sophomore. To this day, Jessica considers this her greatest accomplish while running for the Bobcats. She hopes to reach that level again in her last season, in addition to having a good year overall and being a mentor to her younger teammates.
"I would like to get back to that level," says Kestler, "and even further than that."
"Also, I hope to be an asset to the younger girls. If in any way I can enhance their performance with my knowledge, I will. I want to pass on as much as I can, because I want the team to do well after I leave."
Overall, Jessica has enjoyed her stay in Athens, as it has not only developed her career as a runner but as a person as well.
"I have gained so many life experiences, as well as personal experiences with Ohio," says Jessica. "Without the combination of both track and school, I know things wouldn't have turned out as well for me. Therefore, track was such a blessing."
Over her years on the track squad, Jessica has definitely been a go-to athlete. In 2008, she tied for the second-most events competed in the indoor season, and in 2007 she posted team bests in the 400m and 500m.
Like most seniors, Jessica remains unsure what she will do once she graduates and that includes running.
"It is hard to say what precisely I will be doing," says Kestler. "However, having sports a part of your whole life, it is always very difficult for any athlete to accept closing such a significant chapter."