‘They were skeptical’: Hersey grad found niche at Villanova

Villanova graduate student Jack Fredian (Hersey High School) ran a personal-best 29 minutes, 22.57 seconds in the 10,000-meter run last month at the Big East Conference meet.

The former walk-on placed fourth running the 11th fastest time in program history.

Since December this column has noted numerous local athletes who set a record, hit the walk-off home run, made All-America.

The vast majority do not. They play to compete in a sport they love. They hit the books, build friendships, and work to make their teams and themselves better.

“I feel I was always like a role player on the team, running cross country but always being that fifth to seventh guy. Still a starter, so to speak, but I’m there to score points and not necessarily do anything crazy-heroic,” said Fredian, who on May 18 earned his master’s degree in civil engineering, logging a 3.6 grade-point average.

After some time off, including a trip to Eugene, Ore., for the Olympic Trials in track and field, he’ll work in civil engineering design for a Chicago firm. He’ll continue to run.

On the Villanova Athletic Director’s Honor Roll 11 semesters, Fredian twice ran at the NCAA Championships in cross country, finishing 235th in 2022 and 232nd in 2021, when he made the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association All-Academic Team.

In 2022 he ran through a tibial stress fracture during the Big East, regional, and national meets, one of three stress fractures he suffered during college cross country.

Obviously driven, Fredian as a freshman twice had to prove himself before coaches allowed him to walk on.

“Originally they said no, but I was kind of persistent with it,” he said.

“Clearly, they were skeptical.”

Fredian admitted he plateaued at Hersey after his sophomore year, until a strong summer of training going into his freshman year of college.

Helped with Villanova contacts and protocol by people like St. Viator graduate Jacob Bonanotte, who was on the team, Fredian ran a time trial with his college running club buddies. That went well, so coaches sent him to Lehigh University’s Paul Short Run with the freshman Wildcats.

“I ended up beating them all, so the coach (Marcus O’Sullivan) let me on the team,” Fredian said.

Fredian gained a partial scholarship only once, during the 2023 track season. Yet he was fully engaged.

In track Fredian ran personal-best times at nine different distances from 1500 to 10,000 meters. At the Penn Relays on April 25 he was Villanova’s fastest in the 5K and 26th overall out of 76 competitors.

Fredian said he maximized his potential at Villanova by pushing himself in both aspects as a student-athlete.

“I definitely felt like I had to rise to the occasion, many times,” he said.

“It’s a one-day-at-a-time kind of thing, and eventually I ended up expecting a lot out of myself. I think that’s a good thing.”

We do, too. Congratulations to Fredian and all College Achievers on a job well done. We’ll see you again this fall.

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