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Senior Focus: Slow start to a winning finish

Photo by Jim Pierce

On April 8, at the Duke Invitational, in Durham, North Carolina, track and field captain Jonathan Hall finished fourth in the 400-meter hurdles. But a disappointing performance on a rainy day didn’t sour his sunny disposition.

“There are a couple pictures of me smiling before or during the races,” said Hall, who is one of more than 2,000 graduating seniors this year. “I just kept thinking, ‘I’m happy to be here on this beautiful track.’ ”

Hall carried his positive attitude from the field to the classroom, where he majored in sociology and minored in business, psychology and women’s studies, excelling academically after a challenging first semester.

As a freshman, Hall struggled to balance his course-load — he entered Northeastern as an architecture major — with track meets, practices and workouts. He toted a 1.7 grade-point-average.

“I wasn’t sleeping and studying after practice wasn’t working,” said Hall, who considered transferring to another university. Tired and unsure of his next move, he had a long talk with track and field head coach Sherman Hart, who recalled telling Hall, “We’re going to get this together here. This is where you belong.”

Hart delivered on his promise. He helped Hall pick a new major and develop an academic plan, which included enlisting Elizabeth Johnson and Gavin Porter of student-athlete support services to help the runner set a schedule and “organize his life.”

It paid off. “After I changed majors, I started excelling,” said Hall. He plans to graduate with honors after nearly doubling his freshman-year grade point average.

Hart is proud of his captain, who he called a “technically-sound student of track with an award-winning smile.” As Hart put it, “Jon is dedicated all the way around. When we talk, he listens.”

Hall, who plans to coach high school or collegiate track, will be in Richmond, Virginia, for the Colonial Athletic Association Championships on May 6, the day of graduation. But he’s OK with that.

“The coaches are taking us out to dinner and we’ll have a little ceremony of our own,” he said, then cracked a joke. “I’d rather be on a podium than on a stage.”

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