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Jan Lukas Becker: Beyond Awards
As his Choctaw career draws to a close, Becker speaks to his knowledge gained through cross country.
Too many people believe success is what matters most. However, Jan Lukas Becker— a redshirt senior from Saarbrucken, Germany on the men’s cross country team— has a different way of looking at running.
“It’s not always about success,” Becker said. “It’s about being a good team. Success is very superficial. It’s what gets you to being successful as a team that’s very important.”
Over his past three semesters at Mississippi College, Becker has received awards, broken records, and won a national title. Just this month, Becker helped MC’s tight-knit men’s cross country team reach their third consecutive national meet. However, the awards don’t matter to Becker.
“I just enjoy tying my shoelaces and going out in nature,” Becker said. “Being active. It doesn't take much gear. For running you can literally run barefoot if you really wanted. It’s simple for sure.”
Running has always been a big part of Becker’s life. “Forever,” Becker said. “I’ve always run. My dad used to be a runner as well. When I was a kid, I always was on the bike riding with him when he was running. Eventually it flipped, so now he's the one on the bike, and I'm running.”
Becker started off his collegiate career at Lamar University in Texas before making his way to Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. With two years of eligibility left, Becker was looking to transfer. Mississippi College was not on his radar until Niklas Klei, a friend from Queens, made the move to Clinton. That’s when Becker looked into the university and discovered Mississippi College’s interior design program – his field of study. He decided to make the move from Queens University to Mississippi College.
Upon making the move, Becker started racking up award after award, including but not limited to NCAA Division II Men’s South Region Runner of the Year in 2022 and 2023, 2022 USTFCCCA All-American, and the Division II South Region Men’s Track Athlete of the Year. At his final meet at Choctaw Trails, Becker broke the MC record in the 8k with a time of 23:29.
After this year's pre-season time trials, Becker said he knew they were going to have a good season.
“Both the men's and women's teams really grew a lot since coming back in August, and it's really impressive to see everyone getting on that next level,” Becker said.
Many members of both teams opted to sacrifice going home for the summer to train together. The girls’ team trained in Starkville, Mississippi, while many of the men’s team members stayed in Bald Knob, Arkansas.
“Seeing the progress over the course of the season for me and for the rest of the team proves waking up early in the morning and getting stuff done that isn’t always fun will eventually prove valuable,” Becker said. “It forges a really strong bond with the team. I guess that was very obvious this season–more than in other seasons.”
Becker is finishing his final cross country season with a bang, placing first in his meet at the Division II South Regional Championships in Montevallo, Alabama, in which MC’s cross country team placed third overall. The Choctaws qualified for nationals for the third year in a row despite the team losing two of their top runners, Christian Balcer and Brock Kelly, to injuries. Becker praises the sophomores for willingly taking on the pressure and stepping up to fill in the holes from Balcer and Kelly’s injuries.
Mississippi College was never where Becker thought he would end up, but if he could go back, he wouldn’t change a thing.
“The team culture here is just incredible,” Becker said. “It might be how the university sets up their values, being a Christian university, but I’ve never experienced this before anywhere else. This is absolutely amazing and very, very special.”
Both the MC men’s and women's cross country teams will be traveling to Joplin, Missouri, to compete at the Division II National Championships on Nov. 18.
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