After Military Duty, Setting Records

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Navy junior Jess Palacio
Navy junior Jess Palacio

May 13, 2011

By Clare Lochary
The New York Times 

Jess Palacio, a junior middle-distance runner, is a rarity among United States Naval Academy midshipmen, and not just for the four university track and field records she holds or the nine Patriot League championships she has won.

The cross-country coach Karen Boyle, who is in her 24th season at Navy, said Palacio was the only previously enlisted athlete her program has ever had.

Palacio, 24, joined the Marine Corps after high school, serving for two and a half years and attaining the rank of corporal before enrolling at Annapolis. Out of 4,400 midshipmen, only 183 were previously enlisted in a branch of the military. Of those, only 22 are women.

Palacio has a mean kick that she uses to separate herself from opponents — she will sit on the leader for most of a race and then break out in the home stretch. Her most recent program record was set May 7 at the Patriot League championships, where she won the 1,500 meters in 4 minutes 22.58 seconds. This season, she had a 2:07.22 finish in the outdoor 800 at Princeton’s Larry Ellis Invitational, breaking a 27-year record, previously the longest-standing mark in Navy outdoor track history. She has been named Patriot League track athlete of the meet in the last three league championships.

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