Athlete of the week: Jake McDaniel

Jake McDaniel with his freshman MVP award. Image courtesy of Jake McDaniel

Jake McDaniel with his freshman MVP award. Image courtesy of Jake McDaniel

Frankie Leal

After receiving the honor of freshman MVP in his first season as a Roadrunner, UTSA sophomore Jake McDaniel is poised to improve even more this season. The talented decathlete is on the rise and is now a major part of the track & field team.

McDaniel hails from Houston, Texas, where he began doing track and field in sixth grade. Despite not enjoying it at first, McDaniel decided to stick with the sport.

“I really liked the challenge and how there’s no mastering track & field. You can get faster and faster or jump farther and farther. It’s all based on time or distance,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel attended Langham Creek High School, where he competed in the high jump, triple jump and long jump while also competing in a few running events. In his sophomore year of high school, McDaniel earned the title of district champion in the high jump event en route to being named team MVP.

Jake McDaniel clears a hurdle. Image courtesy of UTSA athletics

After high school, McDaniel had a tough time choosing where to continue his education and track career; he nearly chose to stay close to home and attend Rice University. “It was tough, but at the end of the day my heart was at UTSA,” McDaniel said. “The school is on the rise and they also had the degree I was looking for. I met the athletes here and everything, and I just loved it.”

McDaniel wasn’t always a decathlete, and says he transitioned into one once he got into college. “I was always athletic but never outstanding at one particular event, so the coaches thought I would make a good decathlete because I’m decent at multiple events,” McDaniel said.

Being a decathlete means competing in ten different events. The decathlon consists of the 100-meter run, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400-meter run, 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw and 1500-meter run. As you might imagine, being a decathlete requires multiple skill sets.

Of all the events comprising a decathlon, McDaniel says high jump is his favorite to compete in. “High jump is one of my strengths, and I wanted to go somewhere big for high jump initially,” said McDaniel.

As a student at UTSA, McDaniel is a business management major.

“I started off as a criminal justice major but quickly realized that wasn’t for me,” said McDaniel. “I want to do real estate. Whether commercial or residential I’m not sure yet, but real estate is where I’m headed.”

McDaniel has always been a natural athlete. Aside from track, he also played basketball and football growing up. The two sports continue to be his favorite to play and follow. “I like to play basketball and watch football. I’d say college more than professional too,” McDanel said. When it comes to basketball, McDaniel describes himself as a shooter. “I can knock it down all day, but I don’t have handles. I just shoot,” he said.

When McDaniel is not running, jumping or throwing, he enjoys relaxing and hanging out with friends. “I don’t have much free time, so when I do get some it’s nice to take some time and just relax,” McDaniel said. “I also like to ride my motorcycle around. When I’m home my dad and I like to ride together.”

Although McDaniel is only a sophomore, he says his experience in competing for the Roadrunners has been fantastic. “Traveling and getting new equipment is probably my favorite part of doing track,” McDaniel said. “Last season we got to go to New York and that was really cool. We stayed right by Times Square.”

McDaniel states that track has played a pivotal role in his life. “Track has taught me the importance of work ethic and how to overcome adversity in any type of situation or relationship,” McDaniel said. “It’s also taught me how to prioritize.”

As the track team begins their spring slate of meets, McDaniel will be looking to shine once again during his sophomore season. The track & field team will continue their season Feb.  2 when they head to College Station to compete at the Charlie Thomas Invitational.