DELAWARE, Ohio -- Jonas Elusme isn’t doing a lot of looking back as he enters the final meet of his college career here in the NCAA Division III outdoor track and field national championships.
Countless student-athletes experience a certain sense of melancholy as they reach the end of the road. They remember everything it took to get to that point -- all those early morning workouts, the encouragement from coaches and teammates, the wins and even the losses.
Then, maybe a year or so down the road, he plans to pursue his master’s degree.
“I’m actually pretty excited,” insisted Elusme, who’ll compete in the long and high jumps this week. “I’m looking forward to the future. I’m not the type of person who likes to dwell on the past, because the future holds limitless possibilities. I just want to keep moving forward here, doing the best that I can do in every aspect of my life. I’m not really too sad about it. I’m very pumped and ready to go.”
Regardless, it’s been one heck of a ride for Elusme at Wartburg. How a native of Boynton Beach, Florida, even landed at a school located in Waverly, Iowa, is a quite remarkable story in and of itself.
William Shannon, a former football and track teammate of Wartburg head coach Marcus Newsom, happened to spot an article on Elusme’s high school track exploits in a local Florida newspaper. Newsom eventually met with the young man, and when they hit it off, Newsom had himself a star in the making.
“I believe when you recruit out of state, you need to make sure to meet them in person,” Newsom said. “I traveled to Florida to visit with him. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to travel that far to visit with any student-athlete that they’re good kids. So I did some research to kind of find out what kind of character he had. They had nothing but great things to say about him. He came with great recommendations in terms of being a great young man of character and a hard worker.”
It was leap going from Florida to Iowa, and in a number of different ways. The most obvious change was the weather. Elusme had never seen snow before, but that changed in a hurry once he got to Wartburg.
Both he and Newsom can laugh about it now, but the change in climate was no small thing. Like any freshman, however, it took meeting people to make him feel comfortable and welcomed.
“Initially, I was pretty homesick, especially when the winter season came around,” Elusme admitted. “I was not used to the cold weather at all. It was pretty bad. I never really thought about leaving or anything like that, but it was bad. I was really down.
“At the beginning, it was quite tough. I didn’t have much of a support base here. I didn’t really know many people, but as time went on through different activities such as track and being part of different organizations, I managed to meet people and started venturing out from there.”
If Elusme hasn’t exactly learned to love the cold weather, he has at the very least accepted it. The gig with Hormel Foods? He’ll be making the move from Waverly to the company’s headquarters in Austin.
Not Austin, Texas, either. Austin, as in Minnesota.
“I told him he was going north,” Newsom said with a laugh. “I thought he was supposed to be going south.”
Elusme’s career at Wartburg has been an illustrious one, to be sure. As a freshman in 2011, he won the outdoor high jump national championship right here at Ohio Wesleyan. The following season, he took the indoor long jump crown.
Somehow, it just seems fitting that he’ll be competing for a third national championship as a senior at the very same venue where he won his first. Still, he won’t look back. He won’t make a prediction. He’ll just go for it and hope for the best.
“With me, I never try to look around and see what other people are doing,” he concluded. “I just try to compete with myself. I always have goals in mind that I’d like to reach. Whether I reach them or not, that’s a different story, but I always kind of give myself my own marks. I don’t want to get caught up in the hype from people around me. That’s how I end up losing focus. I just focus on me and my goals.”
That kind of intense focus has meant all kinds of success at Wartburg. It’s meant national championships and All-American honors. It’s meant looking ahead, and never backward.