MINNEAPOLIS -- Abby Kohut-Jackson begins her redshirt freshman season with the Gophers after competing unattached as a rookie during the 2016-17 season. The Cambridge, Iowa, native has already made her official debut for the Maroon & Gold, leading Minnesota's rookies in 30th place with a time of 18:32.1 at last week's Indiana Open 5K to kick off the 2017 cross country season.
Kohut-Jackson reflects on how she first began running, how she chose the University of Minnesota, and how she chose her academic majors of Neuroscience and Spanish.
Gopher Sports: How did you first get into running?
Abby Kohut-Jackson: Most of my family members run. From a young age, my parents were always going out for runs. Every once in a while, once I was old enough, I would join them for a mile or two. I sort-of knew from a young age that running was something I liked doing; I liked doing it with my family, and I felt like I could be good at it. I liked the idea that if you work hard, you'll see those results. Junior high cross country was when I actually started competing, and I ended up just falling in love with racing and the excitement of it all.
GS: When did you realize that you could continue your athletic career and compete at the college level?
AK: I'm really grateful that from the time I was really young, my parents told me I could be really good at running. I never really had a doubt that I could be a good runner. Then in seventh grade cross country, I remember my first race, I went out and I won it. Then it was like, 'Wow, I really can be good.' Even though it was such a small meet, to me it meant so much.
GS: How did you pick the University of Minnesota?
AK: I looked at a lot of schools. I was not really sure what I was looking for in the beginning, so it was a little bit of a long process for me. On my visit here, I just felt like all the girls on the team were so welcoming and it didn't seem like there were a lot of barriers from freshmen up to seniors. I knew the U has a good neuroscience program, which is what I was thinking about studying at the time, and I wanted to be out of state. It sort-of combined everything I was looking for into one.
GS: How did you become interested in your intended major, Neuroscience?
AK: It was kind-of an evolving interest of mine. In high school in my advanced biology class, we did a little bit with the nervous system and the brain. That was the first time that I realized I was interested in it. I took a basic neuroscience class freshman year, and I loved it. I love learning about the brain. I think it can be applied in so many ways, so I'm really excited about it.
GS: You plan to double major in Spanish along with Neuroscience, how did you decide to study Spanish as well?
AK: I took Spanish in high school. Language has always come pretty naturally to me. I thought I would do a minor in Spanish, but then I realized I was going to want to study Spanish beyond the minor requirements. I know it's a good thing to have, and I think it's good to have something that helps you connect to a really wide range of people. It opens you up to a new culture. That's why I decided to do it as a major.
GS: Where is your favorite place to run in Minneapolis?
AK: The Stone Arch Bridge. We go there a lot, but I like it a lot because you always see people of every age out biking, running, or walking. It always reminds me that running is huge to me, but it's also something that anyone can do.
GS: What's your favorite part about cross country?
AK: Since I'm a little bit more of a track-sided person, I really appreciate that cross country makes me work on a lot of my weaknesses. I'm not the type of person who likes to do long, hard runs; I'm much more track-oriented. I really like the team aspect of cross country, too. When you're out on the course, you're not just competing for yourself. You know you have 30 other girls out there who want you to do as well as you want them to do.
Kohut-Jackson and the Gophers return home to Les Bolstad Course to host the Oz Memorial Run at 6:30 p.m. CT Friday.
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