With her college decision out of the way, Jackie Mink is focused on winning a medal in the 800-meter run at the Class 3A state track and field meet.
Mink, a senior at Collinsville, will attend Illinois State University on a track and cross country scholarship.
“My old coach (former Kahoks assistant Diana Kamadulski) and (Collinsville boys) coach (Darryl) Frerker both ran at Illinois State and they mentioned it as I was making my choice,” Mink said. “I contacted a bunch of places, but I ended up going on official visits only to Illinois State and Mizzou.
“At ISU, I felt comfortable there and I liked the coaches and the environment. I felt like I would fit in really well there.”
Mink will major in exercise science and hopes to become a physical therapist.
“I’ve always been interested in the medical field and physical therapy hits so close to home with me,” Mink said. “I’ve been to a lot of physical therapists and doctors and thought it looked really interesting.”
Sports injuries are nothing new for Mink, who has battled to stay healthy for the past year.
“Last year at (Southwestern) conference I was running the mile and I pulled a muscle in my right foot,” Mink said. “I tried to battle that to get better for the sectional and qualify for state, but I didn’t run for 10 days. I went to a bunch of doctors in that time and they said I could try to run at the sectional, but I wasn’t anywhere close to 100 percent.
“I didn’t make it to state and I was really disappointed. I had run the qualifying time a lot during last season, but just not at the sectional. I got better by the middle to end of June and I was really anxious, so I started doing 40 miles a week right off the bat, which was not smart.
“In the beginning of August, they told me I had a stress fracture in the same foot and I didn’t run at all until the beginning of October, but I cross trained like a fool. It started out pretty rocky because I was just getting my feet back under me, but I took it really seriously and I qualified for state and got a PR (personal record) with a month of actual running.”
Throughout the winter, Mink continued to battle some minor injuries.
“I’m just now getting back to where I need to be,” Mink said.
In the 800, Mink has won every meet this season except the Belleville West Invitational and the Collinsville Invitational, where she lost to O’Fallon freshman Tami Cardenas.
“That pretty much comes down to strategy,” Mink said. “I like to go out fast and I wasn’t used to having someone go out slower and then just hit me at the kick. Next time my strategy will be to go out fast, but to hold it from there like I know I can.”
Mink’s personal record in the 800 is 2:17.6, set as a sophomore at the sectional in 2010.
“I ran a 2:17.8 split this year in the 4x800, but my best official time in the 800 was the Madison County Meet (April 23 at Collinsville) at 2:18,” Mink said. “I was really happy with that and now that I’ve figured out how to deal with the O’Fallon competition, I’m really excited.”
Mink also runs the 1,600 and has won several meets.
“I really like the 1,600 because you can relax a little more, but it’s definitely more of a challenge for me because you’re coming off the 800 a couple races before that,” Mink said. “My goal is to run 5:15 at the sectional. I wouldn’t run it at state, but it would be awesome if I could do that.”
If Mink does qualify for state, she’ll concentrate on the 800.
“I like to think big, but first I need to make it to the finals,” Mink said. “If I can do that, I’d really like to run 2:13 or 2:14. Looking at past records, that should put me in the top five or maybe even the top three.”
Mink is also Collinsville’s Post-Dispatch Scholar-Athlete and will be honored Wednesday night at Busch Stadium along with other athletes from throughout the St. Louis area.
“I was really excited and honored about to get that,” said Mink, who will first compete in the SWC meet at Belleville East. “I was surprised because we have a lot of really good athletes who are really good in the classroom too. I’m pretty involved with the clubs at school and running is my life, but I stay pretty busy.”