This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published September 12, 2019
The path of Jay Koloseus’s life changed during the summer prior to his freshman year of high school. Like many people who grew up in Guilford, Jay was immersed in the town’s soccer program. However, following his 8th-grade year, Jay spent a week participating in a cross country camp, and the rest was history.
“From an early age, I’d been a talented runner, always breaking the record or winning the mile in gym class, but in Guilford, it’s very hard to pass up soccer,” says Jay. “After that camp, one of the coaches convinced me that running was something you live or die by, and I decided I’d live by it. At age 13, I made a decision, and I’m still living that way today. I quickly found a passion for living the runner lifestyle.”
Jay competed for the boys’ cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track teams for all four years at Guilford High School (GHS) before graduating as the most decorated runner in Indians’ history. Jay ran for five years at Division I Syracuse University and went on to coach at the collegiate level. Jake is currently the associate head coach at Drake University, another Division I school, in Des Moines, Iowa.
All of Jay’s accomplishments were recognized when he was inducted into the Guilford High School Athletics Hall of Fame this summer. Jay remembers seeing the plaques of the inductees when he was in high school and feels honored to now be among them.
“To be honored in any Hall of Fame is obviously extremely humbling and an awesome experience,” Jay says. “Some of my earliest memories are walking through the halls at GHS and seeing the athletes on the plaques. It’s like I’ve come full circle and close to a dream come true.”
Jay credits the coaches at his cross country camp for putting him on the path to realize that dream. Jim Ford and Jon Faitsch were the coaches at the camp, and Ford went on to coach Jay throughout high school. Based on their encouragement, Jay switched from soccer to running.
“They saw something in me I know I didn’t see in myself,” says Jay. “They promised me the world and, looking back on it now, I don’t know if they really knew what would come of it. But I’m glad they did what they did, because it changed my life for the better. I don’t know where I’d be without them.”
Jay fared well in his first cross country race at Guilford. As his freshman year went on, Jay and his parents started to realize that he was going to spend his athletic career as a runner.
“I was third overall and thought I was on my way,” Jay says. “I was confident in this decision way before my parents. I was a good soccer player, but being able to compete with seniors right away, I knew I had gift in running that was unparalleled to my soccer abilities.”
“My mom came around before my father did. He might still be on the fence,” Jay jokes. “They were going to support me no matter what, but they were thinking they had sunk a lot of money and time into soccer. It only took a matter of months to see just how good I was, breaking records at the state level as a freshman.”
During his high school career, Jay won a combined total of 19 state and New England championships, in addition to leading the Guilford boys’ cross country team to state titles in 2003, 2004, and 2005, as well as the State Open championship in 2004. Jay came in second place at the State Open that year. The following year, he won the race to become the first Indians’ runner to finish first at the Open.
“What I define everything by is winning the State Open senior year in cross country after losing the year before. Going into senior year, there was no one who was going to outwork me or be more prepared,” says Jay. “To come back and win was amazing for me, and right up there was winning the State Open as a team my junior year. It was an unbelievable time with the best friends in the world.”
Jay finished his high school cross country career by earning runner-up honors at the New England Championship and then competing at the National Championship in San Diego, where he made the All-America Team by finishing 20th overall.
On the track, Jay was named an All-American on two occasions. He set state records in the indoor 1,600 and 3,200, along with breaking the state record for the outdoor 3,200.
Jay received a full athletic scholarship to Syracuse University, helping the Orangemen win multiple Big East Conference championships and a Northeast Regional championship throughout his five years with the program. While pursuing his master’s degree, Jay was offered a chance to join the coaching staff at Auburn University in Alabama.
“Coaching was a surprise, but while I was at grad school and offered a position helping out, I fell in love with it pretty quickly,” Jay says. “I like giving back to the athletes and helping to shape them like I was guided. It’s a great way to spend the day, and the fact that I get paid to do it is kind of ridiculous.”
Jay went on to start the cross country and track programs at Louisburg College in North Carolina, serving as head coach for three years. He was named the 2016 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association East Regional Coach of the Year.
Now living in Des Moines, Iowa, Jay has been the associate head coach at Drake University for the past two years, coaching the cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track teams. He feels grateful to be leading a Division I program.
“Usually you pay your dues [before coaching at the college level], but I was blessed to have a very good career that helped me get in, and knowing people from that career helped catapult me into a position,” Jay says. “We’ve done a great job growing the program at Drake. Now it’s time to start winning championships in our conference and making a name for ourselves. We have some great young men and women on board to do that with us.”
While his team’s schedule keeps him busy, Jay has still been “soaking up the midwestern lifestyle.” He’s become involved with his church and enjoys visiting the farmers’ market, as well as biking, playing video games with his brother who attends UConn, and, of course, running. Jay’s favorite thing to do, though, is visit his hometown.
“I love being able to show people around my hometown,” says Jay. “It’s something I’m very proud of, and it gave me my love of amazing pizza, which we don’t have [in Iowa], and a faster pace of talking and working. I was raised in Guilford, and it means everything to me.”