By Ryan Kaczmarski
North Olmsted native and Ashland University sprinter Jordan Hoppel was named as an All-American earlier this summer.
This achievement came as a part of the Ashland Eagles 4×100 relay team that includes Hoppel, Keith Cleveland, Deondre Davis and Eric Thompson.
The relay team finished fifth overall at the NCAA Division II national meet, and the top eight teams are recognized as All-Americans.
“We found out right after the race,” Hoppel said. “It is a pretty cool experience.
“We would have liked to place a little bit higher, but it was a very, very windy day – about 35 mph winds consistently – and it really screwed up our exchanges,” he added.
“The whole experience – being out there (at the NCAA meet) – it really hasn’t hit me yet,” he said of the All-American nod. “Going to nationals, and wanting to make it to nationals and become an All-American, it just hasn’t hit me yet that we did it.”
Hoppel is not entirely satisfied with the fifth-place finish, though.
“As a team, we feel that we really have a shot to win it all next year,” he said.
Hoppel is considered a junior at Ashland after declaring as a redshirt in both an indoor and an outdoor track season, giving him two more full years as a collegiate athlete starting this winter.
When asked about future Olympic possibilities and postgraduate running, Hoppel did not rule anything out.
“As a track athlete, there is always the goal of making it to the Olympic trials,” he said. “That’s a really big stage and you’re running against the best of the best. I’ve always wanted to do it.
“I’ve always said that after college, I wanted to go and train post-collegiate for a year or two just to see what my body can potentially do,” Hoppel added. “I want to get everything I can out (of my body), because I don’t want to look back and say, ‘I had this ability, and after college, I let it all go.’ If you take any time out of this sport, it’s very hard to get back into it. My goal is to continue training after college.”
Hoppel noted that becoming a top collegiate athlete is never accomplished on raw ability alone; it takes good coaching throughout one’s career.
“I feel that every coach that you deal with over your athletic career is going to leave a mark on you,” he stated. “You’ll always remember something about them, and you’re going to take what they said and apply it to your current situation.
“I feel like every coach that I’ve had has left a huge mark on me, like Coach (Mike) Ptacek (from North Olmsted High School) and some guys that I work with in the offseason, including Ranan Dent from Baldwin-Wallace University and Coach (Dave) Smalley here at Ashland. A lot of people have made an impact on me.”
There were also a couple of athletes who had an impact on Hoppel’s career.
“I had the opportunity to go down to Texas and train with a professional sprinter and two of his training partners, who are now on the Olympic team (Michael Rodgers and Michael Tinsley), and their coach down there made a huge impact on me,” he said.
If you have heard the Hoppel name before, but not with regard to track and field, Jordan is from the Hoppel family that is a huge part of wrestling in Ohio, with his grandfather and uncles, as well as his father, all wrestling at a high level in both high school and college. The Hoppel family was given the Family Heritage Award by the Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame in 2007 for the sport of wrestling.