Nicolas Escobar was ready for a great senior year but found himself knocked out with an injury before he ever ran a race this fall. He patiently worked his way back into racing shape by the beginning of October and finished the season strong with a third place finish at the county championship in 16:17, fifth in the region and eighth in the state. He appeared to continue getting stronger after the season ended as he placed second at the Battle of the Potomac Championship and 27th in the elite race at the Footlocker Northeast Region Championship. Last year on the track, he ran 4:28.18 in the mile and 9:44.50 in the 3200, but failed to qualify for the outdoor state championship. This season, he is determined to return to the state championship and drop some fast times.
MoCoRunning: This past cross country season probably did not go the way that you were hoping. You didnít even toe the line for a race until the beginning of October. Explain what was going on that kept you out of competition for the first half of the season and how you worked your way back in time for championship season.
Escobar: During the start of the season I got injured from a hard work out. I went all out at the wrong time, and it cost me more than half the season. I got tendonitis on my IT band down by the right knee. I couldn't walk after the work out. That's how bad it was. The doctor made me go to therapy for a month, and because of that I got better. I figured out, during that time when I couldn't run, that I needed to be patient with the injury and that I would have to focus all my effort on training and getting back into shape for the counties, regionals, and states. I looked forward to racing and doing the best I could, even if I didn't get any PR's. It was rough on me.
MoCoRunning: You finished the season nicely, not just with top ten finishes at counties, regions, and states but also second place at the Battle of the Potomac and 27th at the Footlocker Northeast Championship. First, talk about your race tactics and execution at the Battle of the Potomac as you fought Tom Harrison of St. Albans for the win.
Escobar: At the Battle of The Potomac, I had an unexpected finish. I had no idea what I was doing or how I was doing it, and I most certanly didn't think I had it in me to be up there and in the top 3 for most of the race. I was doing well as I hit that final uphill. I focused on getting to the top, thats what I wanted, to get to the top. My only tactic was to move up and be up there with the top 5 throughout the whole 1st lap of the course. I wasn't sure I could do it. The one thing that kept me motivated was the thought of me having to wait so long to do well in XC. Harrison came from behind and got me on one of the final turns. I hadn't expected it. I let him go, and then Coach Pelkey yelled "WE NEED THAT POINT!" That made me think about everything I had put up with the whole 1st half of the season. I tried catching Harrison and almost got him at the finish line. It was a good race though.
MoCoRunning: Describe the new Footlocker regional course and what it was like for you on race day.
Escobar: Footlocker was a very difficult course. It was really cold and windy that morning. The course started out on flat for the first 1200 meters, and then it became a long hill called "snake hill" that is a very intense part of the course, because right after it, when you're tired, a steep down hill pops up. The course is just like that through out the first 2 miles. Very intense. It ends with a turn that makes you go against the wind. Since I didn't know what to expect out of the race I kind of wanted to see how well I could do, like a test, to see if I could go further than I did last year. My mind was ready to qualify for Nationals, but my body wasn't.
MoCoRunning: Hopefully you are not done with cross country for good. Are you looking into running collegiately?
Escobar: No, I want to keep running. I want to run in college.
MoCoRunning: Your coach tells me that you have some big plans for the upcoming track seasons. Could you share your goals with us and talk about what you are doing to make sure you achieve them?
Escobar: I do have big plans. Basically, what im trying to do is to peek for Nike Indoor Nationals. Thats the big plan. Out there I hope to get a good spot/place so that I get more colleges to look at me. To get there, I'm working extremely hard, I'm resting a lot, eating and working out a lot. I'm doing a lot.
MoCoRunning: Will you focus on the mile or two mile or both at Nike Indoor Nationals?
Escobar: The mile.
MoCoRunning: You have never had trouble qualifying for states in cross country, but last spring you found out first hand how unforgiving the state advancement standards are for track. You set your PR in the rain at the county championship in 9:44.50, a time that would have qualified automatically for states, but at regionals you came up one second short of qualifying in fifth place. Then you missed advancing in the 1600! Talk about that experience.
Escobar: The moment I realized I didn't qualify for states I felt horrible. That taught me to be strong and to use my heart. That race was all about heart and how much you wanted it. I wanted it, but I just didn't have the heart. That was an unpleasant experience. That's not going to happen this year. I've decided that I've put enough effort into the workouts and because of that I will push myself even if it hurts.
MoCoRunning: Between the Virginia Tech Invitational, Footlocker in New York, and Nike Indoor Nationals in Boston, you have traveled to some pretty big meets. Do you like the big meet atmosphere? What is your favorite meet you have ever been to (track or cross country) and why?
Escobar: Yeah, big meet atmosphere is something I like. My favorite meet is the Virginia Tech Invitational. At this meet a lot of things happend. I did more than what I was expected to do. I did better. Because of this meet, I put a thought in my head that said, "I will do it." My patience actually got me somewhere.
MoCoRunning: What do you do in your free time?
Escobar: I play soccer with my little brother.
MoCoRunning: Do you have any other runners in your family?
Escobar: My dad used to run, in Colombia. He always tells me that his brothers and him would run marathons. The only other runner is my little brother, Juan. He's actually really good for his age. He'll be in high school in 2 years.