It's been five days since JoJo Jourdon became a national champion at Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Oregon.
Winning the title still feels unreal to him.
"It still hasn't fully sunken in," Jourdon told MileSplit this week. "It still feels surreal. It was an amazing feeling crossing that line. It was a dream come true."
In 2022, Jourdon finished third at the RunningLane Cross Country Championships with a time of 15:12 -- in similarly soaking-wet conditions to NXN this season. The difference this year, Jourdon said, is that he returned as a more self-assured runner.
"Last year, I didn't think I would be in contention to win RunningLane," Jourdon said. "So when [Steven West, last year's champion] made his move, I doubted myself if I could go with him. This year, I had so much confidence heading into NXN that I trusted myself to make the right moves."
This fall, the Wake Forest signee not only drilled down on that focus, but also executed on workouts that were more tailored toward him.
Jourdon, who won his first Utah state cross country title this year for Olympus (UT), woke up this past weekend ready to tackle the mud and rain at Glendoveer.
He said he was completely "locked in" an hour before the starting gun went off. While his original goal was to be in the top five across the line, as the race unfolded, he found himself in an advantageous position.
Jourdon said he wanted to remain three seconds behind the lead pack and then slowly move. But when it became obvious after the first two kilometers that no one wanted to be in control, he made his decisive move.
"At that point, I looked around and didn't see the big names around me," Jourdon said. "So I just thought, if I go now, I can put a little bit of distance on them and they can make that up throughout the rest of the race. I ended up going and ended up working out. I felt really good honestly. I honestly have no regrets and I went for it. "
* Photo Credit: Bobby Reyes / MileSplit
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His instincts were right.
With his confidence swelling, Jourdon was gapped the field through the 4K mark and still had a monster kick in his back pocket.
His final move? It came when he saw his future Wake Forest coach Brandon Hazouri cheering for him with 800 meters to go.
"[Seeing Hazouri] just gave me the adrenaline and what I needed," Jourdon said. "I knew I could hold on for another minute and a half more. I could go through a lot of pain just to win a national title, just to be there. I wasn't certain at any point [that I was going to win] until I was super close to the line because I knew all of those guys had crazy finishes. I just had to hang on."
Jourdon fought through the pain and had enough left in the tank to get to the finish line just ahead of the No. 3 and No. 4 ranked runners in the MileSplit50 this season.
"I felt strong throughout leading and I knew there were guys like Cameron Todd and Nathan Neil who could close on me," Jourdon said. "Going up that last hill, and going down the straight, I was running scared. I ended up kicking hard enough to where they couldn't catch me."
Jourdon crossed the finish line in 15:16, while Todd and Neil finished two seconds behind in 15:18.50 and 15:18.60, respectively.
Looking ahead, Jourdon said he will take full advantage of 10 days off -- which will include some fishing.
His sights are set on running at sea level at the Arcadia Invitational in April. He will be training to run under 8:35 in the 3,200m. Last year, he finished 10th overall with an 8:46.
He also has state records on his mind and wants to join the sub-four-minute mile club.