By Denise Spann -- On Recruiting
- - -
As National Signing Day for the Class of 2020 slowly approaches on November 13, last year's graduates are justing beginning their first days in college and preparing for their first collegiate workouts on their respective teams. Over the course of the fall semester we'll be checking in with some of the best athletes in the Class of 2019.
- - -
Jatana Folston had a big year on the track in 2018. MileSplit's Class of 2019 No. 44 recruit placed third at New Balance Nationals Outdoor in the 400m with a time of 53.04, which ended the year at US No. 13. She also won her first FHSAA Class 2A state championship and an AAU Junior Olympic title in the 400m.
The Cocoa High School (FL) alum ran sub-54 seven times in the 400m throughout that entire season.
VIEW: MileSplit's Class of 2019 Top 50 Girls Recruits - MileSplit's Class of 2019 Boys Recruits
But in her final season, the Floridian also shifted her focus to the 800m, hitting 2:10.20 on the clock for a new PR. She later went on to place second in the 400m and 800m at states, helping her team finish as runner-ups in Class 2A. To finish off her high school career, she was invited and placed fifth in the 400m at Brooks PR.
Last November, Folston picked the University of Southern California as her future home, following in the footsteps of other Floridians like Kendall Ellis, Deanna Hill and Twanisha Terry.
What was it about the USC track and field program that made you want to become a part of it?
Definitely the accolades they have for the team, their recent success, and winning the national championship the year prior. Also, Coach Carol and Coach Watts are very great coaches; they're one of my main coaches for my events, the 400m and 800m. They are really the key to me picking this school.
For your freshman year, do you know if you're going to focus on the 400m or 800m?
I talked to Coach Watts and Coach Carol and they said I'll focus on the 400m and the 800m. I'll go from Coach Watts to Coach Henner and go back and forth with it.
What are you going to miss about competing in high school and summer track, if anything?
I'm definitely going to miss just knowing the people that I'm competing against are the same age as me. But now it's a wide spectrum. I could be competing against a 21-year-old in grad school or a freshman. So that's going to be something that going to different. Also, you don't really get medals in college, so that's going to be different also.
Do you think you'll get homesick? You're three hours behind now...
It is kind of weird to have the whole time change because whenever I want to talk to my mom she may be sleep and I don't want to interrupt that. Homesick, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I just came from Miami for a little break after summer school and I was ready to come back. I think I'll be okay.
How was summer school? What do you like most about LA?
LA has so much to do and it's kind of crazy, but there isn't as much time as you think you do especially as a student-athlete. You just have to make sure you focus on time management skills and I also took only one course this summer semester. I got an A in the class, it was fun. It was about the history of LA, which is good since this will be my first time really living here.
What are you looking to improve on as far as the execution of your race at USC?
Definitely executing my race and just making sure I'm improving. I'll be focusing on what I'm putting into my mouth, what I'm doing late at night, just trying to get the proper rest with the proper nutrition.
Are you nervous for your first practice or do you think will be a walk in the park?
No, not at all actually.
What are your goals for your freshman year, indoor and outdoor?
I definitely want to make it to the final indoor for the 400m or the 800m and then obviously for nationals I want to place in finals of either the 400m or the 800m and the 4x400m.
If you could give a current high school senior advice on how to pick the school that's best for them in their recruiting process, what would it be?
I would tell them go with their heart, go with their instincts. Don't put too much pressure on yourself from your family on what they say and where they want you to go because they aren't going to be there for the next four years, you are. Make sure you look at the coaching staff and ask them, 'how long are you going to there' because coaching staffs can go in and out. You don't want there to be a change and they're just like, 'oh, I'm sorry'... So, you just have to make sure they're going to be there for the long run.
- - -
If you're a recent graduate of 2019 and want to let us know how your first year is going, you can contact MileSplit Correspondent Denise Spann on Twitter, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.