Jonathan Addison came to NC State to become an engineer, not an Olympian.
Next Saturday, that first dream will come true when the Raleigh native and Enloe High School graduate receives his degree in industrial engineering, along with 83 current and former student-athletes and thousands of other students in all degree fields. Like many, he’s already accepted a job in his chosen field.
He won’t start work, however, until after he finishes competing for the NC State men’s outdoor track and field team and makes a trip to Eugene, Oregon, for the U.S. Olympic Trials in late July.
“Going to the Olympics is something I’ve dreamed about a long, long time,” he says.
One of the country’s top long jumpers, Addison finished second at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in February and produced an Olympic-standard distance to earn his invitation to the trials. If he finishes in the top two there, he will make the U.S. Olympic team headed to the 2016 Rio Janeiro Games in Brazil in August.
First, Addison will pick up his degree at spring commencement exercises next Saturday at PNC Arena. He’ll do that after competing on Friday at the Wolfpack Last Chance Meet at the Paul Derr Track, where he has trained for the last four years to fulfill his athletic dreams.
A three-time All-American and three-time ACC champion, Addison has twice been named the ACC Indoor Field Athlete of the Year and earned back-to-back ACC Outdoor Performer of the Week honors this spring following his jumps at the Florida Relays and the Raleigh Relays.
He’s also earned academic honors from the conference as one of two NC State seniors who earned ACC Postgraduate Scholarships. Cross country runner Kaitlyn Kramer, who will graduate with degrees in chemical engineering and textiles, was also honored, while two-time NCAA champion Nick Gwiazdowski, majoring in parks, recreation and tourism management, and All-American offensive lineman Joe Thuney, an accounting major, both received Weaver-James-Corrigan honorary awards.
The athletic recognition has been a nice supplement to Addison’s college career, but track was not his primary interest when choosing his hometown school.
“The main reason I came to NC State was because of the engineering program,” he says. “Track was the No. 2 thing. I knew that I wanted to be prepared for a career after school. That’s always been my focus.”
Wolfpack head coach Geiger, now in his 34th season, has always emphasized to recruits that they need to focus on more than just their four years of competition at a school.
“We encourage student-athletes in our program to challenge themselves academically,” Geiger says. “We don’t want them to take the easy path. Jonathan has been that way since he enrolled in school.
“He’s one of those special young men you have in your program over the course of a career.”
Addison has gotten better with each passing season. In 2014, he was 20th at the outdoor championships. Last year, he was 14th at the indoor championships and fourth at the outdoor. And in the winter, he was second at the indoor championships.
He’s also gotten faster as a sprinter. At the Raleigh Relays, he had a wind-aided 10.47-second 100-meter dash, which is just 0.03 seconds off his personal best. At the Virginia Relays in late April, he ran a wind-legal 10.53-second 100 meters and teamed with football standout Nyheim Hines, Shannon Patterson and Quashawn Cunningham to post a 39.42-second time in their season debut in the 4X100 relay, a mark that ranks among the top 10 in the nation.
Now that his course work is over, he can focus on the rest of his competitions, which included the ACC Outdoor Championships in Tallahassee, Florida, May 13-15; the NCAA East Preliminary, May 26-28 in Jacksonville, Florida; and the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon, June 8-11.