Teen athlete: Jackson Churchill

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Jackson Churchill, a junior at Duluth East High School, is a captain for both track and cross country.

"Jackson is exactly what you want in a captain," said Joe Rauzi, a junior who runs cross country with Churchill at East. "He knows that the only way for the team to get better is to make sure everybody is working hard to get better, and not just the top runners."

Churchill began running cross country in eighth grade and made it on the varsity sections team in ninth, 10th and 11th grades. He joined track in 10th grade after playing baseball in eight and ninth grades.

"I ended up getting into the running sports because of the real team atmosphere and the kindness I was met with," Churchill said. "I had a lot of great role models that I looked up to, and I always felt valued and supported. That's probably my favorite aspect of cross country and track; the way that everyone supports each other and lifts each other up is outstanding."

Not only does Churchill enjoy participating in organized sports, but he's up being active any time.

"I guess I've just always liked to run around," Churchill said. "I enjoy playing a wide variety of sports just for fun. some of my favorites are Ultimate Frisbee, soccer and football. I like to always be active and absolutely love to spend a beautiful day outside running around."

Collin Dott, another junior at East, runs cross country and track with Churchill.

"He is super-fun to joke around with and tease," Dott said. "Never get in a snowball fight with him at track because he will outthrow and outrun you."

Churchill has been known to take fun and games seriously, and also gets serious when it's time to compete.

"He's really quick," Dott said. "He's always first in our sprints and on our long runs he sets the pace. Running with him is a party, not to mention that he absolutely kills it at all the meets."

Running can be an unenjoyable sport for some, but Churchill works to make sure everyone has a good time.

"I usually don't like running, but he always finds ways to make it a good time, which is probably what keeps people coming back," Rauzi said.

Not only does Churchill set goals for himself, he sets goals for his team.

"Individually, I am currently working in track to lower my 800 meter and 400 meter times to the level where I can closely compete in the larger track meets that we have later on this season," Churchill said. "I am optimistic about where our team is headed this track season and anticipate a great end to the year, as well as a successful cross country season next fall."

Churchill is interested in keeping running in his life after high school.

"Even if I wasn't on a competitive team, I feel running and being active does so much to positively impact mental and physical health and I plan on staying active in college," Churchill said. "We'll see where my running can take me in my last few seasons of high school running and if any opportunities arise to competitively run in college."

Solveig Rennan is a junior at East High School and interned for the Budgeteer in 2014. If you have an idea for a teen athlete profile, email budgeteer@duluthbudgeteer.com.