Cross country: After self-imposed hiatus, Centaurus’ Link is back

Jake Link called it like it is. He needed to clear his head.

The Centaurus cross country standout wasn’t in good spirits last fall, despite finishing 10th in the Class 4A state meet. He had soured a bit on the sport, so much so that he decided to skip track season in the spring.

“Basically, after cross country, I had an injury and I didn’t quite get what I wanted goal-wise,” Link said. “I really had to find some time to fall in love with the sport again.”

Now a senior, Link’s saga is firmly in the rearview mirror. He’s back and ready to go.

Last year’s disappointment stemmed from a few different occurrences. He had his sights set on breaking the school record in the Liberty Bell Invitational, but the event was canceled. Link propelled his focus forward to state, where he publicly stated a preseason goal to finish in the top five.

Hamstring and back issues prevented him from being 100 percent, however, and the hamstring issue “really showed up” just as he was finishing the state event at Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs.

“He had a rough go it,” Centaurus cross country coach Devin Rourke said. “The injury set him back mentally and he had some big goals for himself last cross country season, so he was a little bummed. I mean, 10th at state is pretty awesome, but he had goals for much bigger.”

Link claims he was happy with the 10th-place finish and a second-team all-state nomination. But the season as a whole left him questioning his internal commitment level. He skipped track despite having recovered from a health standpoint.

Link maintains communication with former Centaurus star Chandler Reid, now a sophomore at Adams State, and Reid believes Link can continue to run in college. Link was an understudy to Reid when he donned the Warriors red, white and blue.

After some soul searching and body recovery, Link appears ready for a stellar final season with the Warriors.

“He’s got the passion back,” Rourke said. “He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve coached and he definitely has that look in his eyes.”

Link was delighted to rejoin the running community after many inquired about him during the track season. Competitors were pleased to see him during Centaurus’ preseason meet.

As for his outlook, Link is staying away from bold predictions and taking more of a go-with-the-flow approach.

“I’m just trying to get the team to state,” Link said. “That’s the main priority. I haven’t run for four months, so I’d love to finish in the top 10. But it’s really whatever I can help with. That’s the goal.”

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