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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

Jack Graffeo runs his way to the University of Tennessee

Provided by Jack Graffeo
Jack Graffeo sprints to the finish line in an indoor track meet.

When the COVID pandemic hit, many people lost touch with their hobbies and found themselves with little to do with their newfound time. However, junior Jack Graffeo used the extra time to delve into a new hobby that has allowed him to accumulate numerous records and awards: running.

This extra practice due to the pandemic fueled his passion for the sport, ultimately leading him to decide to continue his track career into high school at the D1 level. After a successful 2023 cross country season he decided to take the college athlete path, committing to the University of Tennessee.

“I didn’t know I wanted to compete at the college level until my freshman year of high school, [when] I competed at my first ever nationals and got 3rd place,” Graffeo said. “The passion came that season when I realized I could be pretty great at this given a few years of work and after I started taking the sport seriously I started to really enjoy the process of improving every day and every season. ”

Graffeo put his name on the map after a breakout 2023 cross country campaign. He ran the fastest 5k in the state with a time of 14:47. Along with that milestone, he won the DCL Cross Country Championship filled with hard competition from nearby schools. Adding on, Graffeo finished 3rd at the State Championships and qualified for his first ever Cross Country Nationals out in San Diego with his Stanford commit teammate senior Paul Bergeron, winning 37th place

Alongside his cross country achievements, he started off on the right foot at the New Balance Track in Boston with a mile time of 4:21:60.

Graffeo’s decision to go to the University of Tennessee also involves an interest from off the race track. He plans to attend the business school at University of Tennessee.

“The Haslam School of Business is highly ranked amongst the top public schools in the nation and I hope to become a business major there in the future,” Graffeo said. “I would say the climate attracted me down south, I’m really looking forward to getting out of the cold winters.”

Track and Field practice at Westford Academy occurs everyday of the week, besides competition days, so balancing academics and athletics can be tricky for some. Graffeo is able to manage his time between these two activities.

“I prefer to separate the two from each other and I’ve picked that up during winter,” Graffeo said. “By separating [academic and athletics] in my head I can be completely present in school when I need to be doing school work and present at practice when I need to be running. I don’t think of my school work when I’m running and I don’t think of my running when I’m in the classroom.”

Runners need to have a strong mentality to help them before and during the race and Graffeo excels in this leading to his success.

“My mentality changes from race to race but recently what’s helped me is keeping it lighthearted. If I try to have fun with it and put my best effort forward I’ll race well. It helps me find the reason for why I want to race and that’s super important,” Graffeo said. 

Graffeo is always trying to improve his running ability on the track and off. While off the track, Graffeo analyzes professional runners such as Gaylen Rupp, one of the greatest American distance runners, because of his mentality and work ethic.

Similarly, Westford Academy track played an important role in Graffeo’s development as a runner.

Running with a group of guys that really love the sport like I do taught me to be extremely disciplined,” Graffeo said. “We just put in the work necessary with no questions asked, and that has carried over to every aspect of my life. If you want to be great at what you do, it takes what it takes.”

Even with a high school career filled with numerous accolades, Graffeo refuses to slow down his pace, setting his sight on a life of record-breaking running.

“I am hoping to extend my career to compete at the highest level possible. I’m looking to hopefully be fortunate enough to win an NCAA title at the collegiate level,” Graffeo said. “Afterwards I would love to become a marathoner and make an attempt at the Olympic Qualifying standard.”

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About the Contributor
Nihal Mark
Nihal Mark, Staff Writer
Hey my name is Nihal Mark, I'm a junior at WA and this is my first year on the Ghostwriter. Some things I enjoy doing are playing soccer, hanging out with friends, and traveling. In the summer, I like going to the cape with friends and also playing soccer overseas with academies. The winter for me is preseason for my club season. Last summer I toured colleges and got invited to play in Portugal. I can’t wait to start journalism!

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