Athlete of the Week: John Westwood ’16, men’s track and field

Devan Schulte, Senior Writer

Men’s track and field standout John Westwood ’16 is an accounting and financial management major, but the Sewickley, Pa. native excels in numbers both inside and outside of the classroom. At the IC4A  Championships in Boston on March 5-6, the mid-distance runner secured the top spot of the 1,000-meter race with an impressive time of 2:24.26. These numbers landed Westwood with All-East honors, his own personal-record, and a fifth-place spot in the Bison program’s history.

“Going into the weekend I knew I had a shot to win the meet, but I didn’t really put any pressure on myself. I really just wanted to put it all on the line for my last indoor meet ever,” Westwood said.

On the first day of the IC4A Championships, Westwood sailed through the preliminaries with a first-place time of 2:25.03. Despite finishing just 0.8 seconds short of Bison track and field legend Thomas McLean’s 1,000-meter record in the finals, Westwood was able to shave off a second from his preliminary time and take home the gold.

This success is not new for Westwood, as he holds many Patriot League titles. He was a member of the 2015 distance medley team and the 2015 4 x 800 team, both of which attained (and currently hold) program records. Still, the 1,000-meter race is where the Quaker Valley High School graduate truly excels.

“I love running any event from the 800 to the mile. The 1,000 meters is in between and just seems to fit my running abilities. I do a lot of distance training so when the majority of my competition starts to fade in races, I am usually just starting to roll,” Westwood said.

Westwood has rolled his way into plenty of success as a member of the Bison track and field team over the last four years. He has made a definitive impact in the overall team’s success in indoor, outdoor, and cross country events since his first year as a member of the Orange and Blue squad. He has run in several events, from the 4×800-meter relays to the 8K, and has successfully gained recognition for his outstanding efforts in each of the different races. He earned All-Patriot League honors in his first two indoor campaigns and All-East honors in his third season. This year’s IC4A provided Westwood with the platform to achieve his ultimate goal of an individual title.

“Over the last four years, I have learned a lot about being a runner. I learned that you have to be patient and that you have to put in a lot of work. I have made so many sacrifices in that last year or two. It is all about the work that you put in to become a better runner and that work will eventually pay off,” Westwood said.

Westwood’s determination, hard work, and passion paid off, as he revealed great improvement from his fourth-place finish in last year’s IC4A 1000-meter run. He also attributes much of his personal success to the constant support and encouragement from his teammates and coaches. Westwood said that his decision to attend the University was based primarily on the track and field team atmosphere.

“I have never seen a team travel 100 runners (male and female) to an away meet. I love the family feel that the coaching staff installs,” Westwood said.

This family atmosphere has greatly benefited the Orange and Blue, as they have secured numerous Patriot League titles in recent years and are always one of the top contenders in Patriot League competition. Westwood notes the importance that the team’s past upperclassmen had on his success as a runner, and says he hopes to continue this tradition in the final weeks of his senior year.

“My older teammates always taught me to believe in myself and to trust our coaches’ training,” Westwood said. “As for my younger teammates, I would tell them that they have to make the sacrifice to become a better runner. You cannot live the lifestyle of an average Bucknellian and be a good D-I runner.”

The life of a Division I athlete is rigorous and demanding, yet this challenging commitment has paid off for Westwood on the track and in the classroom. He has attained a spot on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll since his first semester. He hopes to finish off his career on an equally high note, as the team kicks off its outdoor season on March 26 at Susquehanna University with the Jim Taylor Invitational. To prepare for the meet, Westwood will have watched an episode of “Scooby-Doo” the night before, PB&J in hand, with aims to keep breaking records and collecting hardware.

 

Position: Mid-Distance

Hometown: Sewickley, Pa.

High School: Quaker Valley

 

Personal Records (Indoor)

800-meter (1:53.64)

1,000-meter (2:24.26)

1 mile (4:06.88)

3,000-meter (8:31.92)                                                                                                                                                  

4×800-meter relay (7:28.36)

 

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