Jacobs used to success when it came to running

Note: This is the seventh in a series of profiles of 2019 Saint Francis University Hall of Fame inductees. The induction ceremony is scheduled for Friday:

LORETTO — Erika Jacobs is a winner.

In her four years in Loretto, Jacobs won three NEC Team Titles, two in cross country and one in outdoor track & field.

As an individual, she was among the top three scorers all-time for the SFU women on the track. Twelve years later, she still ranks seventh all-time.

In the process, she won three individual NEC indoor titles and two outdoor titles in the 800-meter, 1500-meter, and 1-mile races.

In cross country, her accomplishments are equally impressive. She is one of just five SFU women who’ve earned All-NEC honors four times, twice finishing as the Northeast Conference runner-up.

Through it all, the thing teammates remember most about Jacobs was her presence as a good teammate.

“Erika was such a great runner but the team always came first,” said Jacobs’ classmate and teammate Taryn (Sheehan) Gibson.

“I always admired her because she was such a well-rounded student-athlete,” Sheehan said. “She was a phenomenal athlete, great student and was active in the school in different clubs. She always had an ability to connect a group and she did that with our team.”

Sheehan credits Jacobs for building a culture of cohesion.

“I didn’t realize how special of a group we had until I graduated. We all pushed each other to train hard and challenged each other to reach new heights, but at the end of the day, it was always about the team,” she said.

Right in the middle of it all was Jacobs. Sheehan recalled one race in particular that demonstrated her teammate’s unselfishness.

“We were running in the NEC Cross Country Championships at Van Cortland Park in the Bronx during our senior year and it was a really hilly course. Erika and I used to team up because I was better on the uphill sections of the course and she was more comfortable at the downhill.

“On that particular day, I was sick and didn’t feel my best,” Sheehan said. “I remember holding on to Erika through the downhills and she pulled me along. She was so determined but always made sure she was helping her teammates.”

Saint Francis finished in second place that evening. Jacobs was the event’s runner-up while Sheehan placed fourth.

Then there is the infamous Coca-Cola story.

Jacobs, typically the cool and calm presence on the team, was preparing for the 800-meter run at the 2007 NEC Indoor Track & Field Championships when she told Sheehan that she had a pit in her stomach.

“She was nervous,” laughed Sheehan. “If you knew Erika, it’s even more outrageous because that was the only time I had ever seen her nervous.”

To combat the stomach sickness, Sheehan’s mom, Diane, who was a graduate assistant coach at the time, gave her a Coca-Cola.

“If you are a runner, you know that a Coke is the last thing you put in your body before a race,” Sheehan joked.

The idea worked. Jacobs went out and broke the Saint Francis and Northeast Conference record with a time of 2:13.21, a mark that stood until 2018.

“That’s why she is a Hall of Famer,” Sheehan said. “She always came through in the big races.”

Taylor Powers works for Saint Francis University.