Moffat County High School graduate Alicia Nelson added to her growing list of accomplishments at the collegiate level last weekend, taking two individual national titles at the NCAA Division II 2013 Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
That brought the former Bulldog and current Adams State University runner’s tally of national championships to four in the 2012-13 sports season, a number that would represent an excellent career total for most athletes.
Nelson won the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 5,000-meter run Friday and Saturday, respectively, at the outdoor championships in Pueblo, capping off a dominant junior season.
The races followed up an individual championship in the 2012 Division II National Championships and another first-place finish in the 3,000-meter run during the indoor track season.
On Wednesday, Nelson said she could barely believe her level of success.
“It’s definitely special,” she said. “It’s still kind of sinking in, I guess. It’s just one of those things where you try to do what you’re capable of.”
Throughout her career with the Grizzlies and the Bulldogs, Nelson has proven to be more than capable no matter the assignment. Nelson’s hard work goes all the way back to her days at Moffat County, when cross-country and track coach Todd Trapp recalled her desire to be among the best.
“She won the cross-country title in the fall of her senior year and then in the spring she was really strong,” Trapp said. “I told her I thought she could win the 3,200, because that field was a bit weaker. The mile and 800 were going to be a lot tougher. She said that’s what she wanted, was to run against the fastest people and the best competition. At that point I thought, ‘Wow, this is the start of something for her.’”
Even for a runner of Nelson’s caliber, having a year like hers is rare, he said.
Nelson’s cross-country career at Adams State is over, but she redshirted as a sophomore for indoor and outdoor track, so she will run as a Grizzly for one more year. In the meantime, she hopes to complete a goal at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
At that meet, happening June 20 through 23 in Des Moines, Iowa, Nelson hopes to break through 10 minutes and earn an ‘A’ qualifying time. Her fastest time so far in the steeplechase is a 10:03.
“There’s plenty of fast girls (running there), so my goal this year to break 10,” she said. “I feel like I’m ready, I just need to get in the right race to do it.”
Nelson is always humble when speaking about her accomplishments, crediting everyone else involved with her running career equally to her own hard work. That is one of the reasons Trapp called her a “coach’s dream.”
“She’s so driven and will do whatever a coach asks,” he said. “You tell her to do a 60-minute run and she’s going to do that, not stop at 58 or 59 minutes. She’s one of those kids who believes in the system and believes in herself because she knows she’s doing it the right way.”
With seven seasons of running and a host of national championships at Adams State under her belt, Nelson doesn’t point to any particular moment or season as better than the rest.
It has been more about enjoying the journey, she said.
“It’s always a process and every year it’s been different,” she said. “I guess this year I really had a chance to give back. Coach (Damon) Martin has put in a lot of time to getting people better. It’s been special in itself to be a part of the program. So I’ve felt like me winning is another way of saying thanks. We get to share in the national championship.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org