With one year of eligibility remaining, John Mascari could arguably be the best long-distance runner in the history of Indiana State.
In the NCAA Championship in cross country, hosted by Indiana State in Terre Haute on Nov. 22, he finished in eighth place out of 250 racers. No Sycamore before him has ever placed this high, and this performance rewarded him his second consecutive All-American recognition.
“Hopefully big successes keep happening,” Mascari said. “Success will gain a great reputation, and from our program, it’ll draw in other younger guys into coming here. (As an individual), I just want to help out the team as much as possible. Over the last three seasons, I have qualified to the NCAA Championship. I think it motivates the ISU team to work even harder.”
All great athletes have a driving motivation or success that pushes them beyond their opponents. Mascari credits his own remarkable ambition to his family.
“I come from a very driven family,” Mascari said. “My father works really hard to provide for the family. I get the work ethic from him. If I am ever in need of motivation, I just tell myself I have to take advantage of every day that has been given to me. Life is limited; therefore I run every practice like it is my last.”
Mascari’s hard work in practice has paved the way for his success in racing.
“I love racing,” he said. “Sometimes it goes by much faster than what I like. I enjoy the efforts and cheering of others. I usually just focus on what’ll happen next. If I am in a big race with stiff competition, I make sure I stick on the runners and try to hold on. In my mind I just tell myself I can run with anyone. Thankfully, that has gotten me a long way.”
In examining the 2014 NCAA Championship specifically, Mascari closed the 10K race with an amazing finish. At the halfway point, Mascari was in 22nd place. During those final 5,000 meters, he passed 14 other runners to finish to finish eighth.
“It was such an amazing feeling,” Mascari said, as he reflected on his finish. “The goal all season long was to place in the top 10. To be able to do that on my home course was very special.”