Orland Park native Dylan Jacobs, a graduate transfer who runs distance for the Tennessee track and field team, set a new personal record and three other all-time marks in his first outdoor event as a member of the Volunteers.. Photo By Cayce Smith/Tennessee Athletics

Orland Park native Dylan Jacobs, a graduate transfer who runs distance for the Tennessee track and field team, set a new personal record and three other all-time marks in his first outdoor event as a member of the Volunteers.. Photo By Cayce Smith/Tennessee Athletics

Distance runner Dylan Jacobs has set records at every level, and he has his eyes on the Olympics

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By Mike Walsh
Correspondent

If there is anything that Dylan Jacobs has learned over the years, it’s that Mom is always right.

As youth growing up in Orland Park, Jacobs — now a standout runner at the University of Tennessee — played soccer, baseball and basketball. One day, he decided he was done with soccer.

That decision wasn’t well received by Lisa Jacobs, or as he knew her, Mom.

How did cross country and running sound?

“My mom said I had to do something in the fall,” Jacobs said of his pre-running days. “She said you can’t just come home from school and sit around the house.

“All the credit goes to her because of that. That’s the goal, you know: To make her proud.”

Jacobs was a star high school distance runner at Sandburg before going on to find success at Notre Dame. Dylan has since traded in his Notre Dame blue, green and gold for the Volunteers’ orange and white, and he is finding life in Knoxville to be quite prosperous.

In his debut as a member of the Vols’ outdoor track team on April 14, Jacobs won the 10,000-meter run at the Bryan Clay Invitational’s in 28:01.53 and set several new records in the process:  His own and those of the Tennessee men’s program, the Bryan Clay Invitational and Cougar Athletic Stadium at Azusa Pacific University.

Jacobs has also garnered his third consecutive appearance on the men’s watch list for the Bowerman Award, collegiate track and field’s highest honor.

Jacobs is one of 10 NCAA Division I athletes currently contending for collegiate track and field’s highest individual honor, presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding male and female athletes. He is one of four Volunteers runners in history to be nominated.

Dylan Jacobs NCAA Championships 3 scaled

Dylan Jacobs of the Tennessee Volunteers during Day 1 of the 2023 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship at the Albuquerque Convention Center in Albuquerque. Photo By Cayce Smith/Tennessee Athletics

The fast start to his spring season and all that he has accomplished have not led to Jacobs thinking he’s the greatest Dylan since the gentleman from Minnesota strapped on a guitar and sang ‘Tangled Up in Blue’?

“I’m just focusing on what’s next and what we’re doing each week,” he said. “There are a lot of accomplishments and I’m definitely grateful for that, but I’m focused on what we as a team can do next. We have a lot of goals for this season.

“I want to win the (Southeastern) Conference and win a national title in June.”

The Orland Park resident was lauded as the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s National Track Athlete of the Year for the 2022-23 indoor season with an individual national title in the men’s 5,000-meter at the NCAA Indoor Championships at the Albuquerque Convention Center, running a time of 13:37.59 for the fastest indoor 5,000 at high altitude in collegiate history.

Earlier this year, Jacobs posted Southeastern Conference records and all-time top-five performances in both the indoor 3,000 and 5,000. His season-best time of 7:36.89 in the 3,000 is the No. 2 performance in collegiate history and .47 seconds shy of the NCAA record, while his fastest 5,000 of 13:11.01 stands as the No. 3 all-time collegiate performance and ranks fifth on the 2023 world list.

The 2018 Sandburg graduate starred at his first SEC Championships, winning the 3k in a meet record time of 7:52.49 and closing out Tennessee’s DMR (distance medley relay) gold medal performance with a 3:56 split over the 1,600-meter leg. His 12.5 points scored led the Vols to a fifth-place finish at the conference meet at the University of Arkansas and were part of 35 points tallied by the UT men’s distance unit.

At the conclusion of the 2022-23 indoor season, Jacobs was recognized as the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s National Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, becoming the first Vol to earn that honor since 2017. Jacobs was tabbed Coaches Association’s National Athlete of the Week on Feb. 14 after his record-breaking 3,000-meter performance at The Millrose Games in New York City, and was honored twice as the SEC Men’s Runner of the Week last winter.

Eagles Love
Along with his family providing its ardent support throughout his career, Jacobs cited the cross country and track & field coaching staffs at Sandburg for having big impacts on his life. One person in particular was Eagles cross country head coach and assistant track & field coach John O’Malley.

“Coach O’Malley showed me the love for the sport and the sacrifices it takes and the competitive edge we needed to have,” Jacobs said. “He pushed us to be the best we could be. He’s someone I’ve looked up to in the running community and in life in general. We still keep in contact to this day.

“Whenever I was nervous about a race or hitting certain times, he preached discipline to me and told me to trust my training and trust myself and it will happen. Coach O’Malley is one of the best people and coaches I’ve ever been around. He is definitely inspirational in all regards.”

Jacobs’ training regimen as a Volunteer consists of 8- to 10-mile runs four days a week, with workouts twice a week. On Sundays, he and his teammates run 20 percent of their weekly mileage which is typically about 16 miles.

Jacobs graduated with a degree in business analytics from Notre Dame and is pursuing a master’s degree in management at Tennessee. He will compete in May at the SEC outdoor championships at LSU in May and wrap up his college career with the NCAA championships at Texas in June.

Before establishing himself in the business world, there is one additional item on his to-do list.

“I’d like to become an Olympian,” he said. “That’s one of the goals: To see how well you can do on the world stage. I’d like to make the Olympic teams and make the world teams and see what I can do from there.

“I look at each year and in the future and whatever happens, happens.”

1 Comment

  1. Greg T Hill on May 4, 2023 at 7:05 am

    Great article. Well written.



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