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Interval Session #65 - Bobby Nicolls

By Dave Devine - September 12, 2008

At the advent of a cross country season without an established boys superstar to dominate the landscape, eyes are turning toward Colorado, and a trio of top Foot Locker returners who may lead the way in 2008.   Fronting that pack, and topping several national ranking lists this fall, is Regis Jesuit CO sr Bobby Nicolls.  Nicolls was 18th at the 2007 Foot Locker Nationals, the top underclassman that day, and matched that accomplishment with a solid 9:03.04 victory in the Midwest Distance Gala 2 Mile after a spring of mostly altitude racing.  This past summer he was among a small team of "USA All-Stars" invited to race at the annual Deseret News Junior 10k in Salt Lake City UT, where he turned in a 30:19 downhill 10k and an eighth-place finish as the top under-19 runner in the field. 

On August 28th Nicolls faced an early-season clash with in-state rival and fellow Foot Locker returnee Evan Appel (Dakota Ridge sr) at the Runners Roost/Poudre SD Pre-State Meet.  The Regis senior prevailed in that one, dropping a 15:26 winner to Appel's 15:34 runner-up effort.  It was the first of what will likely be several heated races between the friendly competitors, and propelled Nicolls toward an autumn campaign he has every intention of extending deep into December.

DyeStat senior editor Dave Devine runs down the latest distance hope to emerge from the Rocky Mountain region.

1) Seems like the season is off to a good start, with a nice win at the Poudre SD Pre-State meet over a good field, including Evan Appel.  Can you talk about your approach to the early season, what you're hoping to accomplish, and how you choose which races to key on, with hopes that extend into December?

Yes, Poudre was a great start to the season, but as you mentioned, I'm hoping my season will go into December. With that in mind I work all season towards those meets and even have to sacrifice state a little bit, so it's been a good start but I have a lot more to do still.

2) There's a lot being made about the strength of Colorado's boys this year, with three of the top Foot Locker returners all coming from the Denver metropolitan area.  How much interaction do you have with some of the other top Colorado guys?  Is there a camaraderie?  Friendly rivalry?  Any training together or sharing workout ideas?

There's definitely a camaraderie, and I love to see guys from Colorado do well.  As far as training, most of us have our own plan, but I did get a lot of runs and a few workouts in with Kevin Williams last year.

3) People covering and following sports love to rank things, so a ranking of the best runners in the country is inevitable.  Our own Steve Underwood, as well as some other websites, have tagged you as a pre-season US#1.  What's your own philosophy or approach to a ranking like that?  Do you feel like it adds to the pressure?  Do you shrug it off or embrace it?  Who would be your pick for pre-season #1?

I love rankings and they're definitely fun to talk about, but in the end the only ranking that matters is the finish list at nationals, and none of the guys in that meet are going to let preseason articles effect that.

4) We met at the Deseret News Junior 10k, a summer road race where they bring in some of the top runners in the region for a pretty fast downhill 10k.  How was that experience for you?  Was it a nice break from the summer miles?  A good measuring stick of where your training stood at that point in July?

Well, I wouldn't say it was a measuring stick, but it was an awesome race and a great experience. And of course it's always fun to run a fast time, even if it's downhill.

5) Things have changed on the national scene for talented harriers like yourself, with the addition of individuals to the Nike Cross Nationals.  Have you made up your mind yet about which national championship you'll pursue?  Any chance you'd try to do both Foot Locker and NXN?

Right now the only true National Champion will come from Foot Locker, and it's a shame that guys are going to have to make that decision. Having said that, I wouldn't be totally opposed to running both if we end up having a good team at Regis, which I'm confident we will.

6) Which runner or runners on the national level are you most looking forward to racing this year, and why?  Any particular meets you've got circled on your calendar?

I look forward to almost all races, and the competition is almost always good in Colorado. However, I am always excited to race the best guys in the nation, and that will definitely happen at Foot Locker, which is a great experience at Midwest, and Nationals if you're fortunate enough to go.

7) What's a typical bread-and-butter workout in your season, one that you come back to again and again?  How about the hardest single workout you can remember running?

Right now I'm doing 3 x mile repeats with a 1200 at the end, along with threshold runs that are about 4.5 miles. My memory isn't great for the hardest one ever, because I was a little delirious afterwards, but I remember 300m repeats freshman year that really hurt me.  It was hot out and I had to run really fast to keep up with the seniors.

8) When the trainers come off and the miles are logged for the day, what are some things you like to do in your free time off the track/roads/course?

I love hanging out with friends, and going out to try and pick up dates, which is largely unsuccessful but very entertaining with friends. In the winter I ski a lot, and try to get in some tricks when my Dad isn't looking.

Photos by Vic Sailer (top), and Mark Olson (bottom)

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