High School Sports

Q and A with Hilton Head High's Jack Manesiotis

His career started with a couple of laps around a practice soccer field.

Jack Manesiotis remembers his dad saying he made it look effortless. He also recalls enjoying it.

He hasn't given it up since.

Manesiotis has spent much of his life focusing on running. It shows.

The Hilton Head High junior already has three state championships to his name -- two in cross country and one in track.

With the Class 3-A state championship less than a month away -- where the Seahawks will try for a three-peat -- The Island Packet/Beaufort Gazette sat down with Manesiotis to discuss his accomplished past, his noteworthy present and his promising future.

Question: You're the fourth-ranked runner in the state, but how do you feel your season is professing?

A: Very good. I ran 15 minutes, 38 seconds this past weekend, which is pretty good. Well, really good. But I can still get better. I'm going to start trying to hold faster paces at the end of my workouts so I can finish that last half mile of the race. That would help me get my time down to where I want it, which is about 15:20.

Q: A year ago, you had teammate Jack Felix keeping pace with you every day. Now he's running at Tennessee. What's the difference with him being gone?

A: It's definitely different not having anybody challenge me in practice. I have to go out every day and start running against the stopwatch. That's the only thing that's going to make me better. We're still a competitive team, and we'll be there for the state championship, but in order for me to reach my goals, I have to start running against the watch.

Q: Why do you believe this team can three-peat as state champions?

A: Our Nos. 2 and 3, Sean (McMahon) and Alex (Couch) have really stepped up this year and helped us fill in for who we lost. Their training is great. And our next couple of runners are pretty strong, too. Yes, it's a big deal we lost so much, but I think we can come back just as strong when it matters.

Q: Let's backtrack a little bit -- how did this running career begin?

A: My brother played travel soccer at Chaplin Park. I would run a lap around the soccer field after practice, and I would try to increase one lap each time. By the end of the first week, I was doing seven or eight laps, and it was effortless. I just got the drive to do it. Eventually, on one practice, I just went out and ran for the whole hour and a half. And it seemed like nothing.

Q: I figure you probably get asked this a lot: Do you actually enjoy running?

A: I do enjoy it. Yes, training is tough. It can be awful sometimes. Your legs can get so fatigued. But when race day comes around, it's all worth it. I can't describe the feeling, but I love it.

Q: Have you started thinking about doing this in college?

A: Yeah. Over the summer I went down to Florida State. That was a lot of fun. I've looked at Clemson, too, because my sister, Sara, is on a scholarship there. ACC schools seem to be pretty powerful, so that's where I'm looking.

Q: But first things first, what to hope to accomplish in your final two years of high school?

A: With cross country, I hope to qualify for Foot Locker nationals this year. I'd have to run about 15:15 to get in, so it will be close.

Q: What do you do when you're not running cross country and track?

A: I'm actually playing a lot of golf with my friends. I try to get out and play the links a few times a month. I really enjoy it.

Q: What do you shoot?

A: I shot about 90 once. I needed a few mulligans.