photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Jeff Uveino
ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — When the COVID-19 pandemic spoiled the 2020 spring college sports season, Jacob Osswald was not deterred.
Osswald, a runner on the St. Bonaventure men’s cross country team, used the downtime as an opportunity to upgrade his training.
The Buffalo native moved to Flagstaff, Arizona over the summer to train for his senior season. And, now that he’s back, he’s ready to lead a deep Bona team when the time for competition comes.
“Over spring break I went to Flagstaff, and I know that people go there to train over the summer, so I wanted to see if I could make it work somehow,” Osswald said. “I started looking for apartments and planned it out, but then in April and May I didn’t think it was going to happen because of COVID-.”
By the time May ended, Osswald had made the decision that he was heading to Flagstaff matter what. A week later, he found an apartment and drove across the country to his temporary home.
Flagstaff, a city that sits at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, attracts runners from around the country to train in its high altitude.
“The altitude takes a bit to get used to,” Osswald said. “All of the runners are there to work, so the environment is really good. If you see a runner there, you know they mean business.”
Osswald trained on the campus of Northern Arizona University, where he met runners from San Diego State, Oklahoma State, Portland University and more.
“There were a bunch of good college teams there that were available to train with,” Osswald said. “Getting to see them every day you get to know them, so it was really nice.”
After spending two months in Arizona, Osswald returned home to Buffalo to complete his state-mandated, two-week quarantine before heading back to SBU for the fall semester.
He ran a triathlon in early September, then subsequently took two weeks off from training. The time off, he said, was the first he had taken since March.
Osswald is optimistic about SBU’s cross country team this year, saying that this roster could be “the best team we’ve ever had.”
“Our whole record board got erased (last year),” Osswald said. “Now, people are being more successful and we’re getting better recruits so it should be a little easier to move up in the A-10.”
Osswald ran a career-best 17:17.6 5K at the “Little Three Championship” last fall, as well as a career-best 27:23.4 8K at the “Louisville XC Classic.”
One of six seniors on SBU’s cross country roster, Osswald has taken on a leadership role within the team. He cites former teammate William Delaney, who graduated a year ago, as someone who prepared him to take on that role.
“(Delaney) taught me the most,” Osswald said. “He taught me the leadership role so I feel the same as him now, since he’s engrained it into my mind.”
Osswald hopes that he can lead by example for the younger runners on the team.
“A lot of the people on the team understand how much I do,” he said. “I have to work for what little I have, so I think that they respect that.”
Due to losing track season last spring, and an injury during his freshman cross country season, Osswald has a full year of eligibility left after his senior year. He plans on running while attending graduate school, and has Rutgers University on his mind as a potential target.
However, Osswald’s future plans don’t stop there. After grad school, he plans on moving to Spain to become a triathlete. The Cleveland Hill alumnus swam in high school, and said that triathlons came “pretty natural” to him because he enjoys endurance exercises.
“I won’t be able to do (triathlon) full time for three or four years because most triathletes are older and have a lot of experience under their belt,” Osswlald said. “But by the time I’m 25 or 26, I think I’ll be able to do it full time.”