Salute To Seniors: Jesselyn Bries Rises To The Challenge

Name: Jesselyn Bries

School: Sandra Day O' Connor High School


1600m - 4:59.00 @ AIA Division 1 State Championships (2016)

3200m - 10:35.60 @ Arcadia Invitational (2017)

3 Mile - 16:31.90 @ Woodbridge Cross Country Classic (2017)

5K - 17:43.80 @ Desert Twilight Festival (2016)

Jesselyn Bries made the podium for the Division I Girls 3200m all four years of high school. As a junior, she qualified for Foot Locker National Championships in San Diego, CA and clocked a school record of 10:35.60 at the Arcadia Invitational for the 3200m. Last cross-country season before a stress fracture cut her season short, Bries placed 11th at the Woodbridge Classic in 16:31.90. We wish her the best as she continues her career at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
Where are you from and when did you begin running?
I was born and raised in Peoria, Arizona. I started running in seventh grade.
What was your most memorable race?
My most memorable race was Footlocker West Regionals because the course there is so unique and unlike anything I have ever and probably will ever run. It is the perfect race to challenge yourself. I finished ninth my junior year which qualified me for nationals and I don't think I will ever forget that moment when I realized I had made it.
Did you listen to music before competing? If so what's on your playlist?
I actually rarely listened to music before racing but when I did I would definitely play Eye of the Tiger.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
Over the past four years, Haley Wolf has been, in my opinion, my biggest competitor. She is an amazing runner and since we are the same age, we competed against each other freshmen through senior year.
What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment would have to be winning state cross country my junior year. It was truly a dream come true.

If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
If I could do it all over again, I would definitely work on my communication with my coaches. Too many times I kept an injury to myself, hoping it would go away, when it would only get worse. But I have learned from this mistake and will hopefully be the best communicator to my college coaches.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
The most difficult obstacles I had to face were injuries; especially the stress reaction that kept me from competing in my last high school cross country season. I was frustrated with myself for letting it get as bad as it did and it was difficult to be patient as the recovery took a couple (very long) months.
What will you miss the most about competing for your team?
The thing I will miss the most about competing for O'Connor is the real comradery between my teammates and me. I loved being a part of a team that really cared for one another.
What advice would you give to younger athletes?
The advice I would give to younger athletes would be to make sure that you have fun. High school is the time to try new things and have fun with it.
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
My coach, Michael Iauch, has been the most supportive coach I could've ever asked for. He truly cares about his athletes and wants to see them be their best. He always believed in me and I can't thank him enough for everything he's done for me!
What are your college plans? Have you decided on a major?
I will be going to NAU for college and will also be running cross country and track there. I couldn't be more excited! Currently, I will be majoring in exercise science but I think that will eventually change to something else.
Right: Jesselyn Bries capped off her high school career with 3rd place finishes in the 3200m and 1600m at the 2018 Track and Field State Meet.
What made you feel most comfortable about choosing Northern Arizona?
I felt most comfortable choosing NAU because I really liked each of the coaches, the people on the team were very welcoming and friendly, and I think Flagstaff is the perfect distance away from home. My mom was very excited when I told her I chose NAU because I had been considering out-of-state colleges as well.
While the Lumberjack men are back-to-back cross-country champions, Mike Smith has also had some experience coaching elite women from his time at Georgetown. What do you like about the direction that the NAU women have taken under Smith?
I am excited to see what I can do under a coach who has had success with women's teams and I think the NAU women are excited as well.
Northern Arizona has a reputation as a deep cross-country and long-distance school. What do you think your specialty will be at the college level?
I think my specialty will definitely be long-distance, so on the track, the 5k and maybe even the 10k. I would also love to try the 3000m steeplechase!
Though you intend to be a kinesiology major at Northern Arizona University first, you said it's possible that you may switch majors. What other areas of interest would you be interested in exploring down the line?
If I don't stick with exercise science, I am interested in elementary education or something to do with business because I would love to work for a non-profit.
Who would you like to thank for your success in high school?
I'd like to thank my family who has been so incredibly supportive and the absolute best cheerleaders. I can't put into words how much I love them all. Most importantly I want to give glory to God. I'm just a girl who loves to run and thanks to Him, I'm able to.

Fun Stuff!

What's your favorite vacation spot?
My favorite vacation spot is Mission Beach in San Diego, California. If I ever get the chance to live by a beach, I will take it!
If you could go on a long run with any professional athlete who would you pick?
If I could go on a long run with any pro athlete I would pick Jenny Simpson.
What's the best literary work you read in high school?
I love to read and spend a lot of my free time doing just that. The best literary work I read in high school was The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
If you could have dinner with any three people who would you invite?
I'll just say what my mom said, "Me, your dad, and Jesus!"
What are you most excited to do when you get to Flagstaff?
When I get to Flagstaff, I am most excited to start school because I love learning and I've been blessed with access to a great education, which I will never take for granted.