A senior in the class of 2020, Jacob Cornelio has made the decision to return in the spring of 2021 to complete his outdoor track and field eligibility. Prior to the shutdown of athletics, Cornelio ascended to the top of the weight throw podium at the 2020 NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships. Cornelio’s first career national title added to the long list of throwing national champions under Coach Ed McLaughlin. We caught up with Cornelio on Monday (April 27) to discuss his achievement and his choice to extend his collegiate athletic career.
You entered indoor nationals as the favorite to win in the weight throw. How do you describe what that feeling is like when you achieve that goal of becoming a national champion?
First and foremost it was a huge blessing and opportunity to be there. I never would have thought I would be in that position as a senior in high school. It was just a really cool opportunity to see how things played out in my life. It was kind of like a weight was lifted like, okay, now I can be okay with not throwing this implement anymore and also bittersweet because I knew it was my last time. There was a feeling of relief but also joy and excitement combined. I didn’t throw as far as I wanted to. There were some mixed feelings, but mostly good ones.
What does it mean to you to add yourself to that group of national championships coached by Ed McLaughlin? That list keeps growing.
It’s awesome to be part of history and be part of his history as well. To be coached by such a great guy has been a huge blessing. Papa Ed is a great guy all around and has helped so many people achieve greatness with class and humility – just a great all-around coach.
Once indoor ends you start thinking about what’s next with outdoor. That weekend of indoor nationals the conversation was heating up about the spread of the virus and how it might impact everything in life. Was there much discussion about what things could look like at that point?
At that point, no, not so much. It really happened abruptly and all of a sudden I couldn’t be in the weight room anymore and I couldn’t be on campus anymore. Early on with everything there wasn’t much communication about what the future was going to look like. For a long time my thought process was I graduate and go on to my master’s program for marriage family therapy and I don’t look back. I’m thankful for where I’ve been, but I have to keep moving forward. There was a lot of uncertainty and I wasn’t at ease with that idea. My wife and I looked into Concordia and my options, and Ed helped out a lot with that. Knowing I could still throw I looked into the MBA program.
No one wants to see things end like that where you feel like you don’t get that build up to the end of your athletic career. How difficult of a decision was it to come back?
Ultimately, it wasn’t hard. It gave me a lot of relief and some closure. It would have been harder to leave and to not have completed one more year with what we have going. It wasn’t a hard decision because we knew this was something I needed to do to be happy and satisfied with what I’ve built up for the past four years.
What does it say about the special nature of the throwing program that yourself and a few others want to come back for outdoor next year and finish it off right?
The people that are coming back are the main seniors – Beth (Shaw), Addie (Shaw), Jerod (Peters) and I. Addie and I have had good years and we helped build something for the team. I really see it as loyalty to the program and Concordia to finish off the year here. Ed talked about possibly looking at other places and trying to finish at a different school. I would have nothing to do with that. I told him that’s not going to happen. I was like, ‘If I’m going to finish anywhere, it’s going to be here at Concordia.’ I’ve loved this school ever since I touched the soil and visited back in 2016. I want to leave on a good note and make sure that when I finish college throwing that it will be here.
With pushing things back a little bit, how does this impact your goals from an academic and career perspective?
The biggest addition to my future is getting an MBA whereas the previous plan was to go straight into a graduate program in marriage family therapy and maybe get a business degree later. God works in mysterious ways and He uses opportunities to help us shine. This opportunity came up where I really wasn’t settled with leaving and there was a program at Concordia I could take that would be applicable to my career. We saw that option so we took it and ran with it.
In terms of working out right now, you mentioned being shut out of the weight room and everything. That makes it a challenge. What do your workouts look like right now with having to be a bit more creative?
Ed sends out a lot of programs like at-home stuff to do. One of the main things I like to do is using the big tires down by the hammer cage and do tire flips and do some sprint workouts on the hill. It’s something out of a thrower’s character, but something necessary when I’m not doing much else. I like to do videos online that give you a total body workout and even dancing videos online just to really get the heart rate up. It’s been interesting, but I miss the weight room. I miss pushing the weight rather than body weight squats for 500 reps.
How strange has it been not being on campus and getting used to all school work online?
I’m very much an extrovert so being shut in has been a challenge and motivation starts to dwindle, but I’m still attending classes and meeting virtually with people in my classmates. I’m staying on top of everything. I’m a student first and that’s an important part of why I’m at Concordia.
When you think about next year is it fair to say you won’t be working on any of the indoor stuff? Will it be all hammer throw and discus and things like that? How do you approach that training?
I really have no idea. This is strange territory for me. I won’t be a normal student so it will be really, really new. I don’t know how training is going to look. I think it’s going to be a lot longer in terms of conditioning and strength training over the course of the fall semester and the first part of the spring semester. Once in a while if there’s an opportunity to throw the weight I’m not going to shy away from that. I’m going to try to see if I can best myself in any type of meet that allows me.
Concordia Throws National Champions
1989 Outdoor – Kathy Gottberg (Shot Put)
1998 Outdoor – Stephanie Schilke (Discus)
2014 Outdoor – Liz King (Javelin)
2015 Indoor – Zach Lurz (Shot Put)
2015 Indoor – Josh Slechta (Weight Throw)
2015 Outdoor – Cody Boellstorff (Hammer Throw)
2016 Indoor – Cody Boellstorff (Weight Throw)
2016 Indoor – Zach Lurz (Shot Put)
2016 Outdoor – Liz King (Hammer Throw)
2016 Outdoor – Zach Lurz (Shot Put)
2017 Indoor – Cody Boellstorff (Weight Throw)
2017 Indoor – Zach Lurz (Shot Put)
2017 Outdoor – Cody Boellstorff (Hammer Throw)
2017 Outdoor – Samantha Liermann (Shot Put)
2018 Indoor – Samantha Liermann (Shot Put)
2018 Outdoor – Adrianna Shaw (Discus)
2019 Outdoor – Samantha Liermann (Shot Put)
2019 Outdoor – Adrianna Shaw (Discus)
2020 Indoor – Jacob Cornelio (Weight Throw)