During her prep career at Linn-Mar High School, Stephanie Jenks, was about as close to unbeatable as an athlete could get. Injuries were minor, if any, as she excelled on the track, on the cross-country course, in the pool and as a triathlete.
She finished her four years there as an 11-time state champion in track and field, a 9-time gold medalist at the Drake Relays in addition to one state cross country title.
Jenks had scholarship offers from all the top programs in the country before deciding to attend Cal-Berkeley and run for fellow Iowan and Bears cross country coach, Shayla Houlihan.
Jenks was looked upon as a freshman who would join the cross-country team in the fall of 2016 and be an immediate contributor, after all she was a Footlocker All American and had competed in triathlons at the World Junior Championship level.
But an immediate contribution from Iowa’s All Time record holder in both the 3,000 and 1500 wasn’t meant to be.
Jenks suffered multiple stress fractures including stress fractures of her navicular bone and third metatarsal on her left foot. There was no original to plan for redshirting a single season, let alone her entire freshman year, but fortunately or unfortunately things did not work out that way.
“My injuries have not in any way deterred my passion for running or my choice of colleges,” Jenks said.
If anything it has my strengthened my relationship with my coaches and I am so grateful to have their support.”
“Experiencing what I have a t Cal my freshman year has only solidified that Cal is the place I want to be, Stephanie added.”
Jenks has nothing but high praise for Houilhan, a Sioux City native and former UNI and Utah standout.
Houlihan finished her own running career in 2012 and was ranked as the #7 steeplechaser in America in 2010. The steeplechase is an event that Jenks sees herself competing in, sooner than later.
“That’s the goal. The few times I tried it, I absolutely loved it! It makes running longer distances more enjoyable and gives you something to focus on besides how many laps are remaining,” Jenks said.
Houlihan believes that Jenks has a very strong upside and will be a key factor in the Bears’ future success.
“She’s done a nice job this last year to become a stronger, better athlete despite the injuries that have plagued her. We’ve basically had a little team surrounding her and supporting her between medical staff, strength coach and myself (and the other coaches),” Houlihan said.
“She’s remained positive and focused through it all. I believe she could be a contributor in cross country by the end of the season. I will continue to bring her along at the rate her body allows. Her wellbeing is always my primary focus! With that being said, I do believe she isn’t far away, which is very exciting! She is a very focused, inspirational and dedicated athlete. I appreciate her willingness to keep bettering herself mentally and physically. This sport is hard and sometimes these things happen but she’s trusted in the process and I know will be a better athlete in the long run because of it,” Houlihan added.
2017 Cal Cross Country schedule, click here!