Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jacobs welcomes home graduate — and Olympian — Evan Jager (Sun-Times Media)

ALGONQUIN — Evan Jager was more nervous Wednesday as he crossed the gym through a stream of cheerleaders to the punch of the pep band than he was five minutes before the start of the 3,000-meter men’s steeplechase race last month at the 2012 Olympics in London.

That’s what he told Dan Vosnos, athletic director at H.D. Jacobs High School.

Or, at least, that’s what Vosnos told about 1,000 people who turned out Wednesday afternoon to welcome home Jager in the competition gym at Jacobs, 2601 Bunker Hill Drive.

“I love to see this because I love to see how humble he is and also how embarrassed he is by all the recognition,” said Kevin Christian, head cross-country and assistant track coach at Jacobs.

Wearing a U.S. Olympic team T-shirt and backward hat over his trademark mop of blonde hair, Jager thanked the cheering crowd and motioned for them to sit down.

“This helped make the season so special to be able to share it with so many people. Running well doesn’t mean so much if there’s no one out there who cares about it,” he said.

The crowd Wednesday at Jacobs was more than three times the number that had packed out the Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar just across Randall Road last month to watch the 2007 Jacobs graduate compete in the summer games. The 23-year-old finished sixth that day in a nailbiting steeplechase race in which he’d led the pack momentarily, then fell back after the defending Olympic champion went down in front of him.

And just before the Olympics, Jager had set the U.S. record at the IAAF Track and Field Diamond League Meet in Monaco with a time 12 seconds faster than the Olympic final ended. It was only his fifth time running the event; the Olympics, his seventh.

But, Jacobs head boys track coach Jason Borhart said, “It was never about records for Evan.”

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.

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