With his final season as a Ram underway, senior Jerrell Mock has left a presence on Colorado State’s campus that will be felt for years to come.
In his time at CSU, Mock has earned multiple All-American honors, won two individual Mountain West titles and recently led CSU’s cross country team to its best NCAA Championship finish since the 1978 season. The journey to the top for the All-American began long before he stepped foot on CSU’s campus.
Mock started running when he was about 12 with a middle school teacher and on his own before high school. He decided to get into organized running as a freshman at Logan High School in Logan, Utah, his hometown. During his freshman season, Mock placed seventh on his junior varsity team.
“He started realizing that the difference between being a good runner and a bad runner was largely the amount of discipline you had,” said Karen Mock, Jerrell’s mother. “There were lots of people that were physically capable but the discipline was the rare thing that gave him the mindset to be the kind of runner he is now.”
A son of two national cyclists, athleticism runs in the Mock family. Mock credits his success and willingness to run to his parents and their support.
“It felt personal at the time,” Jerrell Mock said. “Both of my parents were cyclists, they weren’t really runners but that endurance for sport was definitely something that came in the family.”
“Both me and Jon were national level cyclists in our lives but neither one of us went as far as Jerrell did,” Karen Mock added. “But because of that, we were excited with anything physical that Jerrell wanted to do.”
Out of high school, Mock did not receive heavy national attention. He received only a few offers from schools in Utah and the one to CSU. Though he was torn about leaving home or going somewhere unfamiliar, other factors also led to his decision to attend CSU.
“I was interested in staying close to home but wanted to go somewhere new and move out of Utah,” Jerrell Mock said. “Both of my parents spent time here going to school in Fort Collins back in the day and they vouched for the town and the scenery.”
Mock’s parents both attended CSU and were fond of Fort Collins. Given its proximity to Logan, Utah, they felt it was the perfect place for him. Head coach Art Siemers also had an impact on Mock’s decision to join the Rams.
“I really liked talking to coach Siemers on the phone,” Jerrell Mock said. “He had the right attitude about coaching and just seemed really level-headed. He has a very simple approach to training and doesn’t over-complicate things. We do the work and he knows what works, there’s simple things that if you just listen to him you’ll pick up on.”
Despite his dominance as a runner, Mock was unclear as to whether or not he wanted to be a student-athlete in college.
“I didn’t know how good I could get, I just wanted to do it for the enjoyment of it, and I really liked being on a team,” he said. “Having success with it especially as a team is really exciting because when I first came on the team they were just starting to turn around. I came on in Siemers’ second year and ever since then, the team has been on the up-and-up.”
This season, the men’s cross country team brought home the Mountain West title for the first time in program history in part to Mock’s dominance on course. The Rams placed ninth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, matching their best finish since 1978.
Mock credits the team’s success this season to the culture of the runners and coaching staff.
“That’s 100 percent the reason for my success,” he said. “The culture of the team is really close knit. Everyone is excited when someone else does well, especially in cross country because it’s more of a team-scored event. But even in track when its more individual events, half the fun is being at a meet and watching the guys you’ve trained and worked hard with do amazing things and break school records and set PRs.”
Midway through his final season as a Ram, Mock has left behind a legacy that will live on through the record books, banners and championship trophies at CSU.
“It seems a little bit unreal to us the extent to which he has become this amazing athlete,” Karen Mock said. “He still seems like a regular kid to me.”
Despite all of these accomplishments, Mock wants to continue running and getting better, in hopes of training with larger groups once the season ends.
“I definitely plan to keep training, whether that’s on my own or with some group I don’t know yet,” Mock said. “It’s something I’m interested in but it depends on how I do during this last outdoor season. If I can make some kind of a leap, I might have the opportunity to train with some groups. That would be huge for me to keep training with other people with similar or better ability than me to push even harder.”
Regardless of the personal accolades, Mock’s favorite thing about his time as a Ram is watching the team develop over the past few years.
“I’m just proud of how over the last four or five years has just been better and better every year,” he said. “Just looking at the record boards where it lists your places at nationals as each team and it’s cool on the boards because that sticks around and its cool to have that history cemented.”
The track and field season will continue on Jan. 12 at the Potts Indoor Invitational in Boulder, Colo.
Collegian sports reporter Mamadou Balde can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @mamadoubalde62.