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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 29, 2010

Nelson runs far and wide for silver and gold

By Jordan J. Michael

BUFFALO –– Zach Nelson, of Knox, runs an average of 56 miles per week. He doesn’t mind the rain, but he overheats quickly.

So, when a rainstorm rolled through Buffalo on Friday during Nelson’s 3000-meter steeplechase race at the Empire State Summer Games, he didn’t fret. Nelson kept a steady pace and won gold with a time of 10:05.

“It rained the whole time and hailed for an entire lap,” said Nelson, who ran cross-country and track at Albany Academy for four years. “I do well in the elements, so I felt good. The adrenaline was pumping and I didn’t want to give up.”

On Saturday, the heat was intense for Nelson’s 1500-meter race. He had the lead with 400 meters to go, but conceded the gold to Austin Lane. Nelson overheated, but still won silver.

“The heat is no good,” Nelson said after the race. He chose to run cross-country and track at St. Lawrence University because the North Country school has cooler weather.

“I knew I was in trouble on the final lap,” said Nelson after Saturday’s race. “I saw Lane coming in my peripheral. I was toast.”

It was Nelson’s first time at the Games. Gold and silver is pretty good for a rookie. “I have the distance,” he said.

Nelson told The Enterprise that he’s always been fast. His mother was a runner and she brought him to a track when he was 12. Nelson ran a mile in six minutes.

“That’s when we knew it was time to get serious,” said Nelson.

Nelson went to Brown School in Schenectady before transferring to Albany Academy. He went to Berne-Knox-Westerlo for first grade, but it didn’t work out. “I’m a loud kid,” he said. “I don’t think they liked that.”

James Poole, Albany Academy’s cross-country and track coach for 35 years, turned Nelson from a twice-a-week runner into a six-mile-per-day runner. “He didn’t worry about seniority,” Nelson said. “I’ve competed over other kids as a freshman. He’s very accepting.”

The St. Lawrence coaches suggested that Nelson run 56 miles per week. He’s hoping to run the 8K, steeplechase, and 5K while he studies mathematics and sports analytics. “They have me doing a lot,” said Nelson. “I feel it in the legs.”

Nelson said that he runs 12 miles on Sunday’s in the quiet and open fields of Knox. What does he think about?

“I like to go over races in my head,” Nelson said. “I think about working hard in college. I’m extremely competitive, so I’m waiting for my next chance to win.”

Winning gold and silver should hold Nelson for a while.

“You walk into this stadium, and the track looks larger than normal,” said Nelson as he waited for his silver medal at the University of Buffalo sports arena. “I heard my name during the race. That was amazing.”

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