Flowery Branch graduate Jake Shewbert’s high school career officially came to a close on June 18 and, in his mind, it couldn’t have ended much better.
The United States Naval Academy signee ran in the Brooks PR Invitational, a national event for qualifying athletes, in Renton, Washington — just outside of Seattle.
Shewbert finished sixth in the mile at the event with a time of 4:15.95.
“I was seeded last, so there wasn’t a lot of pressure on me,” Shewbert said. “I just wanted to go out there and do the best I could and prove myself on a national stage. Nobody there really knew who I was. A sixth-place finish wasn’t too bad to finish out the season on the national stage like that.”
Shewbert said the windy conditions seemed to be against all of the runners and contributed to slower times at the Brooks Invitational.
Many of the top runners from around the country were on hand, with the winner finishing just eight seconds ahead of him.
“We got out pretty fast and pretty much kept that pace,” Shewbert said. “It’s not bad, but I was expecting a 4:05 or 4:08 to finish out high school. I was pretty satisfied with the position I finished.”
“Do the best I can” has been a repeated mantra for Shewbert this year, as it’s what he said about running at the Georgia Olympics, where he won state championships in the 1600 and 3200. Shewbert was also named the most valuable performer, winning the Bryan Morris award, at the state meet for all classifications after running the best time in both events for all classes.
As Shewbert headed into the Flo Golden South meet in Clermont, Florida, on May 28, he continued to say he wasn’t looking for a place, just trying to do his best.
He did just that. And he won it.
Shewbert ran a 4:12.19 in the mile to take the top podium spot. He won the race by more than five seconds, guaranteeing him a spot at the Brooks Invitational.
In humble fashion, he said the two guys expected to be his biggest competition were given “golden tickets” to the Brooks Invitational. But, much like his two state championship runs, Shewbert won in dominating fashion.
“I kicked as hard as I could the last 100,” Shewbert said. “I was wondering where everybody was at and I turned the last corner and saw the finish line. I was waiting on somebody to pass me. I finished and I was five seconds ahead of everybody. That felt pretty good.”
On June 10, Shewbert had another mark that cemented his legacy as a Flowery Branch runner — he was named the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Athlete of the Year for boys track and field.
“Oh wow! That’s awesome,” Shewbert said. “It’s just hard work and dedication. It makes me feel really good because I’m sure there were a lot of people in contention for that. It’s very humbling and an honor.”
The soon-to-be Navy athlete said the honor is a boost of confidence heading into the college ranks.
Next week, Shewbert will leave for Annapolis, Md. for six weeks of testing and conditioning ahead of the start of his freshman year.
Today, he could be named Georgia’s Gatorade Player of the Year for boys track and field.
“I would honestly be speechless because I didn’t expect anything like that,” Shewbert said. “It’d be a culmination of everything coming together. It makes me feel really good about what I’m doing.”
If selected as the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state, he would then go into the pool of more than 600 athletes to be in the running for one of 12 national Player of the Year spots.
“To even be thrown in that mix would be awesome, if I won state,” Shewbert said. “I don’t know what to say about that, honestly.”
When his freshman year gets off and running, Shewbert just hopes to make the varsity track team. As for his career there, he just hopes he can help take a team to nationals and get on the podium there.
“That’s in the back of my head,” Shewbert said. “A lot would have to fall into place for that to happen. There’s nothing like sharing an experience like that with some of your close buddies.”
To say that Shewbert had a successful senior season of high school would be an understatement. In fact, he’s exceed his goals, which he admittedly sets rather high.
“Me and my coaches have always had high expectations for me,” Shewbert said. “If they’re so high and I fall short, they’re still pretty good marks. If you don’t set your goals high, you’ll achieve nothing. I’ve exceeded all of my preset goals.”
In addition to the state titles, Shewbert also set the seventh fastest time for a Georgia athlete in the 3200 this year at the Meet of Champions with a time of 8:58.78.
“This season has left me speechless with everything I’ve accomplished. I’m extremely blessed to have been able to do it.”