After finishing 6th at the NCAA Championships and earning his fourth All-American certificate, it looked like the end of a successful collegiate career for Jonathan Davis at the University of Illinois. Up to that point, there hadn’t been a standout performance that indicated he should definitely pursue running post-collegiately as a career option — that is until the USA Championships. There, he finished a surprise second in 3:46.01 with a 52.01 final lap. However, without the standard or an adequate world ranking, Davis did not qualify for the World Championships. If there was any question as to whether or not this was a flukey result in a tactical race, Davis answered it a few weeks later at the Sound Running Sunset Tour where he led a stacked field to a slew of personal bests, including his own – 3:33.81!
He joins The Lap Count today to announce his next move.
I should probably start by allowing you to share some exciting news. What’s coming next for you in your athletic career?
Yeah! I signed to run for the Atlanta Track Club and to be sponsored by Adidas. So I am moving down to Atlanta in about a month and I will start training, and getting ready for next year after my season wraps up next weekend at the Sir Walter Miler (Watch here Friday).
After the season you’ve had, there were probably a number of different options. What is it about the Atlanta Track Club that attracted you to head south?
When I signed with Total Sports right after USAs, I made a list of things in descending order that was important to me about a program or hypothetical training environment.
The similarities between my college training and what they’re doing as professionals at ATC had a lot of similarities to hopefully make the transition as smooth as possible.
I hit it off with both coaches, Amy and Andrew Begley, and they have something similar going to what I had at Illinois. That got me interested in the program and after talking with some of their athletes, it was a good fit and natural progression from college.
Were you planning on going pro this whole time — when did you realize that this could actually be a viable option? Like, did you grow up wanting to be a professional runner?
I didn’t make that decision until after the USA 1500 final for obvious reasons. Then I spoke with my now agent, Stephen Haas, about what the future could hold. I just decided to go for it and see where this goes.
I went back and forth ever since high school. I’d have those times where I would mentally do everything I could to set myself up well to run professionally, but that would ebb and flow. At the end of college, I didn’t think anything that I had done until the beginning of this year warranted me going to the next level — especially to make it financially feasible. But when the opportunity presented itself, I kind of realized it was something I wanted to try to do.
It wasn’t straightforward based on finishing order at USAs who qualified for Worlds. Now that you’ve had time to digest it and watch Worlds, what did you make of that experience? Was it strange watching knowing that you had finished on the podium?
Definitely! Watching the 1500 prelims I was trying to digest that as it was going on — just wondering what heat I would have been in and wondering how I would have done. There was a little bit of frustration. And then we went out to Los Angeles and I ran 3:33 and that kind of helped me — and probably a few other people — realize that it wasn’t necessarily luck that I had finished second.
It’s one thing to run 3:33 getting towed along and coming in 10th place, but you beat everyone doing it. You have the fastest American 1500 in 2022. At the start of the year, had I told you that you’d finish second at USAs and run that fast, would you have believed me?
Not at all in early January. The training was a little bit hit or miss after cross country nationals and trying to find a groove in the winter was kind of tough. And so I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me that.
Just going back a little bit in your career, I see that there’s quite a gap during 2018 to 2020 where you weren’t running much or very fast. What happened during that part of your career?
In 2018 I got a stress fracture in my foot and then coming back from that I got mono. Then it was Achilles tendonitis and then a femoral stress fracture. After that I started my healthy streak — it was just a lot of injuries and sickness those two years.
I’m an unapologetic Atlanta Track Club fan because I think the organization is doing things right from the top to bottom. But why would you tell a casual fan to root for you and your new teammates?
I think the community outreach that the team does is really special, which is something I wasn’t previously aware of until recently. It’s kind of hard to root against an organization that is so committed to the whole running environment in Atlanta. Plus, getting to know some of the runners on the team, they’re just people who are hard not to like.
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