Where Are They Now?

See what former Nebraska HS athletes are up to in college!

What is similar and different to college training and competing compared to high school?

 

The amount of mileage was a huge adjustment for me along with not having a walking rest.  The hardest adjustment though is racing because the motivation for racing is a lot different when you are racing for first place versus racing to get 10th place.  Mentally overcoming the fact that you are racing to still be middle of the pack to run hard is huge.

What advice would you give to current high school student-athletes?

 

Start building mileage and start good habits for keeping yourself healthy.  Injuries have taken over my collegiate career-many of my pr’s above are still from my sophomore year because I have not had the opportunity to run faster due to injury.

 

What other information would you like to share? How is your team currently doing, etc.

 

You only get 4 years-make them count.  I will be making sure of that this final year.

Wyatt McGuire, University of Nebraska (North Platte HS)

What high school did you attend? What years did you compete in high school?

 

North Platte High School (2010-2014)

 

What were your PR’s at in high school? What are your PR’s at in College?

 

HS PR's:

Cross country 5k: 15:26

800: 1:58

1600 4:23

3200 9:22

 

College

10k: 31:11

8k: 24:48

5k: 15:04 (true freshman year)

3k 8:32  (true freshman year)

  

What were some of your favorite memories of high school athletics?

-Long country runs

-traveling to meets

-Telling our server it was our coach’s birthday, even though it wasn’t. It became a running joke for the next 3 years.

 

What college do you currently attend? What year are you? What is your major?

-Nebraska, Junior, Elementary Education

 

What is your career path? (Basically, what do you want to do after college)

 

-Teach at an Elementary school.

What makes you a good student-athlete?

-balance running, school, and sleep

-put homework first

What is similar and different to college training and competing compared to high school?

Different

-A lot more mileage

-Living on own, more responsibility

-Coach expects you to go run on your own on days we don’t meet as a team

 

Similar

-Running with a team everyday

-Loving running everyday

What advice would you give to current high school student-athletes?

 

-Enjoy your time in high school by doing other sports and activities. Once you’re in college you have to narrow your focus.

- Always do your best, don’t live with regret and think 5 years later that I wish I had done this.

-Always dream big

 

What other information would you like to share? How is your team currently doing, etc.

 

-Placed 10th in Big Ten, highest finish in history

Nolan Zimmer, Northwest Missouri State (Kearney High School)

What high school did you attend? What years did you compete in high school?

 

Kearney High School, competing from 2009-2012

 

What were your PR’s at in high school? What are your PR’s at in College?

 

HS PR's:

XC 5k- 16:05

1600m- 4:22

3200m- 9:34

College PR's:

XC 8k - 24:24

XC 10k - 31:06

Mile - 4:18 (indoor)

3k - 8:28

5k - 14:31

10k - 30:49

  

What were some of your favorite memories of high school athletics?

Going 1-2 at the State Cross Country meet in 2010 with my best friend Jacob Olson is one of my fondest memories of high school athletics.  I don’t think any two teammates in the state have done it since then, but I hope it happens sooner than later because it’s an amazing experience that is hard to put into words.

 

Winning State Cross Country and State Track in my senior year was an incredible way to leave Kearney High.  The Kearney High Track and XC brotherhood is hard to beat!

 

I’ll always cherish the relationships I formed with my teammates and coaches, through the many miles logged on the Kearney trails and roads.  I cherish all of the weird conversations, stories, and shared laughs while grinding with my brothers.

 

The post track season trips to BolderBoulder were always a blast.  I loved renting a cabin in Estes Park and just running around, exploring the mountains for a few days with the boys.  Definitely some crazy memories (including how we accidentally almost killed Tim Smith, but I’ll save that story for a later time).

 

What college do you currently attend? What year are you? What is your major?

 

I currently attend Northwest Missouri State University located in Maryville, MO. I am a 5th year senior.  I’ve exercised all of my track eligibility and am currently in my final XC season as a Bearcat. I am majoring in Elementary Education and Special Education.

 

What is your career path? (Basically, what do you want to do after college)

 

The primary goal after college is to get hired as a full-time Special Education or Regular Education teacher, preferably in an elementary school.  I also hope to get involved in coaching at some point after college.  More than likely, I will be looking for my first big boy job in either Omaha or Lincoln.  One day, I may venture back to Kearney, but I would like to familiarize myself with other parts of my home state first.  In regards to running, I definitely plan on continuing to train full time.  After this season, I plan on sitting down with my current coach and discussing the best options for me regarding post-collegiate training, racing, etc.  I still feel as though I am in the beginning stages in my development as a distance runner. 

What makes you a good student-athlete?

 

I believe the biggest factor in my success as a collegiate student-athlete has been my consistency in everyday life.  When it’s time to sleep, I sleep.  When it’s time to grind, I grind.  When it’s time to eat, I eat until I am full.  I always try and focus “in the moment” and avoid letting a lot of outside distractions phase me.  I feel like I do a great job budgeting my time as both a student, and a runner.  A lot of it truly comes down to the passion I have for running and for pursuing an education that will allow me to live my dream of teaching children.  I’m one of those individuals who always puts work before play, and that has contributed to my success as a college athlete.  When it is time to grind the miles, or kill a workout, I try to block out the real world and focus strictly on the task at hand.  On the other side of that, when I’ve finished grinding for the day, I try and take my focus off of running and realize that is the time to focus on school, recovering, or just simply having a social life. 

What is similar and different to college training and competing compared to high school?

 

One of the most overlooked similarities between high school running and collegiate running is the fact that running in college is still the same movement that you’ve been doing for however long now.  Far too often I see other kids come into college thinking that they need to alter their training really quickly, or up their mileage dramatically in a short time frame.  It is important to not over-complicate the simplicity that is running.  Try and enjoy your runs as much as you do in high school and trust your coaches.  Heck, chances are you may enjoy them even more in college because of the people around you and the fact that you’re older and in better shape.

One difference between the two is simply the volume of the workouts and the races.  Obviously in collegiate cross country you’re running anywhere from 5k, 6k, 8k, all the way up to 10k.  Don’t be intimated by the sudden volume increase because chances are that at one point, you were afraid to run the mile, 2 mile, or even 5k, and look where you are now.  It’s all a process and you must buy into it and trust it. 

One final difference I want to mention between high school and collegiate running is that, at least in my personal experience, being a college runner brings with it a ton of reflecting back to high school or whenever it was that you fell in love with running in the first place.  In high school there isn’t a lot of that since you’re still so new to the sport.  There will be times during college running where you question your own sanity and find yourself in just flat out crappy situations.  Don’t be afraid to pause for a moment and think about all of the teammates, coaches, races, and runs that helped push you to where you currently are.  Always try and make the highs outweigh the lows, even if there are more lows than highs.    

What advice would you give to current high school student-athletes?

I will start by emphasizing that collegiate running is not for the faint of heart.  Unless you truly have that passion and desire for running, you will find that the lack of investment in yourself as an athlete will come with a price.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen fellow student-athletes who, because of outside distractions, don’t truly invest their heart and souls into the sport, and it shows in their performances. 

 

Be sure to stay on top of the little things, such as stretching (before AND after runs), re-hydrating after runs/workouts, and simply recovering.  I think a common misconception is that recovery means “sleep.”  Recovery can mean different things to different people.  For me, it typically means immediately finding some source of food and just getting off of my feet for a while.  Find what works for you and be “consistent.”

 

Do your best to not treat racing like it is a foreign stranger.  I think one of the most disheartening things to see in running is when there is a kid who works his butt off in training, but simply doesn’t perform well in races.  You should never psych yourself out before or during a race, no matter the circumstances.  You know why?  Because it’s just running!  Like I said earlier, DO NOT overcomplicate the simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other and keeping a smooth rhythm.  Shut the brain off for a while and just run.  Humans were meant to run!

What other information would you like to share? How is your team currently doing, etc.

 

I have to say that this current season has been a blast so far.  The program here at Northwest has made leaps and bounds since my freshman year, all thanks to the passion and perseverance of Coach Lorek and my teammates. 

 

To say that my current teammates and I are a tight knit group would be an understatement.  We all keep each other accountable when it comes to training, performing, and also in life outside of running.  Those are qualities that you want in teammates, but you must also model them yourself.

 

We are currently a little over two weeks out from the MIAA Conference Championships and we have a very realistic goal of claiming the team title.  We’ve been taking this season one race, one run, one day at a time, and I am very confident that we will make some noise when it comes to the championship racing season. 

 

Aside from our goal of racing well at the conference meet, we know that the regional meet two weeks after that is when it really counts.  The top 4 teams out of our region will qualify for the national meet (a feat that hasn’t been accomplished at Northwest in a long time) in Florida on November 19th.  We just recently moved up to number 4 in the latest regional rankings, but we know that means nothing now because you have to perform on the given day. 

 

The last thing I would like to mention is that I am the type of guy who is always down for helping fellow runners, especially high school kids.  For those reading this, please, please, please do not ever hesitate in reaching out to me to discuss anything about running, training, music, girls, Game of Thrones, etc.  I would love to help in any way I can!

 

You can always reach out to me on any form of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  However you prefer to communicate, get in touch with me and I’d love to chat! 

 

Twitter/Instagram:  Roly_Poly_Noly

Wyatt McLeod, Augustana University (Lincoln Northeast HS)

What high school did you attend? What years did you compete in high school?

 

I attended Lincoln Northeast High School. While at LNE I competed in XC in 2012-15, and track in 13-16.

 

What were your PR’s at in high school? What are your PR’s at in College?

 

My PR's in high school were:

5k- 15:55

800m- 1:57.7

1600m- 4:20

3200m- 9:24

In college I haven't been running due to a stress related injury, but I ran in a 4 mile race at the beginning of the season with a time of 20:04 and a 5k split around 15:35 or so.

  

What were some of your favorite memories of high school athletics?

My favorite memories of high school athletics were definitely all the friends I made, whether at my school or other schools. I loved meeting everyone else and learning about their passions for sports.

 

What college do you currently attend? What year are you? What is your major?

 

I currently attend Augustana University SD as a freshman. I am currently a dual major in Biology and Mathematics.

 

What is your career path? (Basically, what do you want to do after college)

 

After college I plan to join a Med School and become a surgeon of sorts, or maybe just a specialized doctor like a podiatrist or anesthesiologist.

What makes you a good student-athlete?

 

I would honestly say my laid back attitude. Not stressing out about most things really allows me to effectively plan out when I do homework and when I have time to hang out with friends. It's been very helpful!

What is similar and different to college training and competing compared to high school?

 

So the main difference I saw between high school and college training was not intensity of workouts so much as it is increased volume and decreased rest intervals. For example, in high school we'd do 4-5 kilometer repeats with 3 minutes rest in between, whereas in college we'll do 8-10 kilometer repeats with only 1:30 or so in between. As far as competing, races are so much more physical. People will not hesitate to shove or push you when they deem necessary. It's so much more important to get out even faster in college if you don't want to spend the entire race trying to break out of a pack!

What advice would you give to current high school student-athletes?

The best advice is to actually focus on academics. As helpful as athletic scholarships can be, they typically won't pay everything, especially for cross country athletes. Academic scholarships will also pay the bills.

What other information would you like to share? How is your team currently doing, etc.

 

Currently Augustana Men's Cross Country is ranked in the top 10 in NCAA D2 cross country, and just won the Roy Griak invitational Maroon Division men's race. We will compete for our 9th straight conference championship on October 21st.

Sidney Hirsch, Wichita State University (Millard West)

What high school did you attend? What years did you compete in high school?

 

I attended Millard West High School from 2009-2013.

 

What were your PR’s at in high school? What are your PR’s at in College?

 

My high school PRs:

Cross Country: 4k- 14:49

Track: 1600m- 5:03

3200m- 10:51

 

My college PRs:

Cross Country:

4k- 13:55

5k- 16:57

6k- 20:54

Indoor Track:

3k- 9:43

5k- 16:56

Outdoor Track:

3k Steeplechase- 10:16

5k- 16:40

10k- 35:31

1500m- 4:36

  

What were some of your favorite memories of high school athletics?

Some of my favorite memories of high school athletics were becoming friends with all of my wonderful teammates and having team pasta feeds before meets. Being back to back team state champions for outdoor track (2012, 2013) and state champions in cross country (2011) are also some of my favorite memories!

 

What college do you currently attend? What year are you? What is your major?

 

I currently attend Wichita State University. I am a senior and my majors are Exercise Science and Psychology.

 

What is your career path? (Basically, what do you want to do after college)

 

I am currently applying to Sport Psychology graduate programs. I would like to be a sport psychologist for athletes.

What makes you a good student-athlete?

 

I think what makes me a good student-athlete is that I am a hard worker and focus on both my academics and athletics. I don’t only want to excel in running, but I know I need to also excel in my academics. Luckily, running is something I can do for the rest of my life, but I know that after college, running won’t be such a huge concentration in my every day schedule and instead I will have a new focus, in my case sport psychology. To be able to eventually get a good job in the future I have to maintain good grades and not forget that “student” comes before “athlete.”

What is similar and different to college training and competing compared to high school?

 

I think there are a lot more differences than similarities in college training compared to high school. The team aspect, racing, intensity of training are all differences. I think the team aspect is different, because you are part of a team where EVERYONE is determined to work hard and get better. You have teammates to run with every day and push you to become a better runner. In high school it wasn’t always like that. Many days I was practicing by myself and having to push myself in workouts. Racing is also different.

You will not be #1. Maybe you were the top runner in high school, but college racing is different and you are able to compete against some of THE BEST runners in the country. It’s an awesome experience and it pushes me that much more in races, and in many cases I come away with a huge PR. For example, last spring my coach took me to Stanford to race the 3k steeple. The Stanford Invitational is a very large distance centered meet and there were some of the top steeplers in the country in my race, as well as some pros. I came away from that race with a 9 second PR and the #2 spot on our school’s record boards. Did I win the race? No. But I got a huge PR and there was no way I would have done that without that competition pushing me. The intensity of training is also different. In high school I maybe got up to 40 miles a week and now I’m running anywhere from 70-80 miles a week. Workouts are much more intense and longer than high school workouts were.

What advice would you give to current high school student-athletes?

Advice that I would give to current high school student-athletes is to enjoy it, because it goes by fast! I am already in my last year of college and I feel like I just started. Also, trust your coaches training. This applies for both high school and college. Your coach knows what he/she is talking about. Trust in their program and you will race well! This means don’t try to do you own thing (do a different workout then your coach says or change the race plan).

 

If you are thinking of running in college, DO! You are part of an instant group of friends that love running just as much as you do.

What other information would you like to share? How is your team currently doing, etc.

 

We have the Missouri Valley Conference Championships in less than a month! Our team will be fighting for the championship! Last year we were runner’s up to Bradley and they will be our biggest competition again this year at conference. We have been running well and having awesome workouts, we have a few injuries, but hopefully can put it all together by then! GO SHOX!!

Clara Nichols, Oklahoma State University (Millard South)

What high school did you attend? What years did you compete in high school?

 

I attended Millard South High School from the fall of 2009 to the Spring of 2012.

 

What were your PR’s at in high school? What are your PR’s at in College?

 

My high school PRs were:

100m 11.96

200m 24.66

400m 55.05

800m 2:13

My College PRs are:

600 yards 1:21.78

800m 2:04.45

1500m 4:23.90

  

What were some of your favorite memories of high school athletics?

I love the state meet! I still go back to watch sometime (although I don’t think many people know who I am or why I’m there anymore). The energy in Burke’s stadium is absolutely electric for those two days every year. I think that another reason the state meet is so much fun comes from all the outstanding performances. All the excitement built into those two days leads to some stellar marks and fabulous track & field—and let’s be honest, setting a big personal record is always fun!

 

What college do you currently attend? What year are you? What is your major?

 

I am currently a first year Master’s Student studying history at Oklahoma State University.

 

What is your career path? (Basically, what do you want to do after college)

 

Depending on how this year goes I plan to: finish my graduate degree, continue running, and find a career in running or history. I’ve learned that a lot of things can happen in only one semester, so I’m trying to keep my options open while working to better myself.

What makes you a good student-athlete?

 

Probably some combination of competitiveness and sheer determination.

What is similar and different to college training and competing compared to high school?

 

Well, I can only speak from my personal experience. Each coach has a different philosophy, so comparing high school and college running is difficult. For me, there are greater differences between the two than there are similarities, because I switched my main event area from the 200 and 400, to the 800 (by training like a 1500m runner). In high school I averaged around 15-20 miles per week with a strong emphasis on short interval training with long recoveries. Now I run 45-55 miles per week in cross-country season and around 45 miles per week during track season. I run six to seven days a week but only “work out” two to three times per week, which could include a 3.5 mile tempo run, a fartlek, or any number of repeat intervals. Obviously, there’s a huge difference between sprinting 15-20 miles/week to running 55 miles/week, so I want to add that the transition from high school to college training and racing can take a long time (it took me 4 years to finish my first tempo run). Honestly, I don’t think that training my will ever stop changing because we are always refining it to make ourselves better runners.

Photo Credit: Clay Billman

What advice would you give to current high school student-athletes?

 

This is a difficult question because there are a lot of high school student-athletes interested in different things. I’ll try to address this question for student-athletes looking to maintain their active lifestyle post-graduation. I’ve been telling athletes who are taking visits to our school and program: there are differences between sports in high school versus college; however, the biggest challenges post-graduation come from lifestyle changes which cause emotional stress. Whether you decide to further your education, or decide to work, your daily routine is altered—let’s be honest, you’re not going to sit in a class room for 8 hours a day, five days a week. The best thing about doing sports in high school is that you can use that activity as a stress release. If you plan on competing in sports after high school, it’s easy to let the sport become a stressor. So what I’m trying to say is that it is easy lose sight of the importance of an active lifestyle after high school, but if you can manage to establish it as a positive part of your life, you will enjoy countless benefits.

What other information would you like to share? How is your team currently doing, etc.

 

Our team is getting ready for the Big XII Cross-Country Championships right now. On paper we probably don’t look like the best team, but we have some big goals and I think there are going to be some surprises the last few weeks of the NCAA season.

John Nownes, Iowa State University (Creighton Prep)

What high school did you attend? What years did you compete in high school?

 

I attended Creighton Prep and competed in both cross country and track and field all four years.

 

What were your PR’s at in high school? What are your PR’s at in College?

 

I ran 4:13 in the 1600, and 9:12 in the 3200 during my senior track season. However, I ran 4:12 in the 1600 and 8:58in the 3200 in two post-state meets. My high school track coach Dan Tietjen and I joke how I always feel those should count as our high school records while Coach Tietjen has always disagreed, so I guess I'm not really sure what my high school PR's are.

  

What were some of your favorite memories of high school athletics?

 

Nothing beats winning the individual and team state cross country championships my senior year. It was my first state championship and our team's first since 1974. A close second would be winning the team state track championship my senior year when everyone who qualified seem to wildly outperform their rankings and score points for us. Those were two special moments when I really began to appreciate the team aspect of both sports.

 

What college do you currently attend? What year are you? What is your major?

 

I am in my second year at Iowa State University, and I major in Aerospace Engineering. Last year I competed in cross country and redshirted both indoor and outdoor track.

 

What is your career path? (Basically, what do you want to do after college)

 

The dream as an Aerospace Engineering major is usually to work for a NASA, Boeing, or SpaceX, and I'm no different. At the same time though, I do not have a really good feeling of what exactly I want to do when I graduate, so I guess I'll just have to wait and see what really interests me.

What makes you a good student-athlete?

 

I don't know if it makes me a good student-athlete necessarily, but I like to think my dedication and genuine love of training are strengths of mine. At this level most people are pretty talented and pretty dedicated, so it's just a matter of being 1-2% more focused than your competition, as well as enjoying the process of getting a little better every day. Of course, luck also plays a huge role in the success of a student-athlete.

What is similar and different to college training and competing compared to high school?

 

Probably the biggest difference in college training is the workouts. College workouts, especially during cross country season, are much longer than anything I ever did in high school. 7, 8 mile and even longer up-tempo runs, as well as 2k, 3k, and even 4k repeats are standard. Competing

at the collegiate level was also an adjustment. For me at least, I had to go back to the mindset I had freshman and sophomore year where I was racing to beat as many people as possible as opposed to racing to win the race. There is definitely a difference between those two mindsets (especially in an 8-10k race) and it took me a while to understand that.

What advice would you give to current high school student-athletes?

 

If you are going to compete in college, you should think about how serious you want to take it. If you aren't going to take running that serious, go somewhere that will allow you to be a part of the team for more social reasons. If you want to take running seriously in college, I'd consider trying to get onto the best team you can reasonably be on, or maybe somewhere you feel will allow you to maximize your running abilities, as those will usually be the places where you'll be able to improve the most. For any runner, the most important thing is to have a good attitude everyday in practice. Only by genuinely loving the process of training and getting better will you ever reach your potential. The second most important thing is to trust the process and believe in what you're doing. Whatever you do to train, if you buy into it, you will always be more successful than if you don't.

What other information would you like to share? How is your team currently doing, etc.

 

Our first meet racing our A team was at Roy Griak, and Iowa State finished 2nd behind Portland. I ran 6th for us that day, and I believe we are now ranked 14th in the polls. We race this weekend at the Wisconsin Invitational. Our goal this year is to make it to nationals, as it's been a while since Iowa State made it.

Also shoutout to Milo Greder for committing to Iowa State! It's always good to add some Nebraska blood and I'm looking forward to having you out here!

Alana Sesow, Augustana University (Lincoln East High)

We are introducing a new weekly series we're calling “Where Are They Now?” We will look at former Nebraska High School Cross Country and Track & Field student-athletes that are now competing in college. This series will highlight their high school accomplishments, favorite memories, transition to college in the classroom and athletically, along with other information that gives you a little more access to each of these amazing young student-athletes. It will also show you that regardless of where you come from in this wonderful state, each of you have the opportunity to compete at the next level. Thank you to all of those who have taken the time to be included in this weekly series. Some WATN will be a video interview (if possible), while others will have the Q&A in text.

 

If you would like to be included in this series, please let us know if we can set up an interview, or click here for the form and email it to us at nebraskaelitetc@gmail.com.

 

The first student-athlete we are highlighting is former Lincoln East runner, Alana Sesow. She is a freshman at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This interview was conducted in late October of 2016.

Ryan Cox, Northwest Missouri State (Millard North HS)

What high school did you attend? What years did you compete in high school?

 

Millard North High School from Fall 2008-Spring 2012

 

What were your PR’s at in high school? What are your PR’s at in College?

 

High School:  

800- 1:54.71

1600- 4:20.05

3200- 9:30.54

 

College:          

800- 1:54.04

1000- 2:29.72

1500- 3:50.54

8k (cross)- 25:07

10k (cross)- 32:58

  

What were some of your favorite memories of high school athletics?

My favorite memories were winning metro as a team my senior year and receiving the “Athlete of the Meet” award.  Racing the same faces each week was fun to develop rivalries and friendships.

 

What college do you currently attend? What year are you? What is your major?

Northwest Missouri State- currently a 5th year working on my MBA.  Graduated with a degree in Accounting and Corporate Finance

 

What is your career path? (Basically, what do you want to do after college)

 

I plan on accepting a job with a CPA firm and eventually move to a private company in the finance department to work my way to CFO.

What makes you a good student-athlete?

I am a good student athlete because I work hard all the time.  There is no rest for student athletes.  I work hard in the classroom so that I never have to worry about grades or eligibility and I work hard on the track to get bring home as much hardware as possible.

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