As storybooks go, things usually build up to a happy, successful ending. For his four-year career as a distance runner for Flowery Branch’s track team, Jake Shewbert couldn’t have written a better ending.
In the fall, Shewbert won a state championship for the Falcons’ cross country team in the Class AAAAA 5k run with a cushion of six seconds.
This spring, Shewbert took the 1600-meter run at the Georgia Olympics, running the fastest time for all classifications by nearly 1 1/2 seconds. In his Class AAAAA race, he had over seven seconds difference between him and second place.
After winning the 1600 on Day 1 of the three-day event, he stepped to the starting line for the 3200 on Day 2.
Shewbert crossed the finish line in 9 minutes, 02.94 seconds, over 19 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher in Class AAAAA. His finishing time was 5 1/2 seconds better than the next runner in any other classification.
The now Flowery Branch graduate was awarded best performer for each race and then honored as the Bryan Morris award winner. The Bryan Morris award is given to the most valuable performer of the entire state meet — in all events and all classifications.
“To receive that was very humbling and awesome,” Shewbert said. “There were so many great athletes out there. As a distance guy, there’s less opportunity for you to compete.”
Falcons’ coach Jimmy Sorrells said Shewbert receiving the Bryan Morris award was something he may never see one of his athletes receive again.
“I told coach (Richard) Ramsey I could coach another 40 years and not have another guy get that,” Sorrells said. “It was not expected because the Georgia Olympics always has such great talent. It’s usually a sprinter or jumper. For a distance kid, that was unbelievable.”
As far as Sorrells could recall, he couldn’t think of a Hall County athlete who had won the prestigious award at the Georgia Olympics.
For Shewbert, his love of running goes back to seventh grade. From there, he had success with it and he kept pushing forward.
Fast forward five years and you have the athlete he is now.
According to Sorrells, there are multiple things that make him so great at what he does.
First, he’s coachable. He does what his coaches tell him. Simple as that. Second, he has an “outstanding work ethic.”
Third, Sorrells said Shewbert is great at avoiding or managing distractions.
Fourth, he and Sorrells, after four years, have a great relationship, which has translated to him being so coachable.
“Then you throw in the talent and you get the state champion and what not,” Sorrells said.
Just a week after the Georgia Olympics, Shewbert ran the 3200 in the first ever Georgia Meet of Champions in Marietta.
Shewbert not only won that event, he broke the barrier of nine minutes with a time of 8:58.78, setting himself as the seventh fastest all-time high school athletes in Georgia to run the event.
“When you start thinking about the over 40 years we’ve had the Georgia Olympics, that is an exclusive group,” Sorrells said.
Now, Shewbert has an appointment to the Naval Academy, somewhere he’s had his eye on since sixth grade. There, he’ll run for the Midshipmen.
“They sent me a letter at the end of my junior year and that was my first big recruiting letter,” Shewbert said. “It’s one of the few places that allows me to serve and able to compete as a collegiate athlete at the same time.”
Shewbert was also recruited by Georgia, Georgia Tech and Army.
With an athlete who has reached the level of performance Shewbert has, Sorrells doesn’t want to see him go.
“You don’t want to see them go, but it’s a process,” Sorrells said. “He’s going to move on to a better future at the Naval Academy.”
The Naval Academy, according to Shewbert and Sorrells, has a great returning group of runners and a great recruiting class coming in as well. Shewbert has one goal as an incoming freshman.
“I just want to make the varsity team,” Shewbert said. “That just shows how good the current team is. There are some stud guys on the team. To make varsity as a freshman would be huge.”
After concluding the four-year story that was his high school career, Shewbert will pick up the pen and begin writing a new novel when he arrives in Annapolis, Maryland.