Runner Nick Keeling Is “Keeling” It Out There

Men’s cross country runner Nick Keeling believes the team can go the distance for this season’s upcoming NJCAA Championship.

Nick Karmia, Sports Writer

Since second grade, Nick Keeling has always been a runner. As he went on to formally compete all throughout his years in middle school and high school, to doing the turkey trot with his dad every season, life has always seemed to be a never ending jog. 

“Why walk when you can run?” Keeling says.  

Keeling has always experienced pure enjoyment as he’s competed throughout his cross country journey. “Going head to head with someone else” remains special to him, and has always served as a competitive drive. Most importantly, what truly pushes Keeling’s passion for cross country is how challenging the sport can be. 

“The feeling you get after knowing you did something hard,” Keeling said. “When you finish a hard workout or a hard race and you get the result you were looking for, it’s just a good feeling that comes out of it.” 

Keeling also appreciates how clear the path to improvement can be. 

“It’s also a really interesting sport because, with running you can see last year I ran this time but this year I’ve run faster,” Keeling said. “It’s helpful in that way because you can really see your progress and kind of visualize it.” 

As individual of a competition cross country may seem, Keeling believes having strong connections with teammates and maintaining those relationships is what can determine a team’s success. 

“Especially with running, people always kind of put it in the category of an individual sport, but I think more than any other sport you need your team,” Keeling said. “Everything about your interactions with your teammates affects how you perform and run.” 

And to him, COD has lived up to that standard.  

“Being on a successful team, when you know that a group of people came together as a whole and achieved something is definitely something to be proud of,” Keeling said.  

On Oct. 8, Keeling competed at the Beloit Olde English Invitational earning first place as he ran the 8,000 meter course. Although Keeling had run the fastest time, he’s always looking for the next “mark or milestone” after every race. 

But when success isn’t so clear, Keeling has faced obstacles in the past where the constant strive for improvement has turned overwhelming, where not getting a desired time can be upsetting. 

“It’s not always the best feeling, but you do have to separate yourself from the results,” he said. “Look at it from an outside perspective and think, ‘it was just one race, it was just one day.’ You’re going to have another opportunity to run. You’re still going to wake up the next morning, everything will be fine.” 

Keeling took on the “24 hour rule,” from his high school coaches. It’s a code for any athlete to follow, having everything turn into a learning experience. 

“Whether the race was good or bad, whether you won or lost, you have 24 hours to think about it. Process it, take it in, and then go back to work.” Keeling said.  

Keeling always wants to keep a “positive attitude and mindset,” and plans on continuing with this sport for as long as physically possible. 

“A lot of runners can agree that you can kind of continue to do this for really the rest of your life,” Keeling said. “Even after college, I’d like to think that I’ll continue to be a runner even if it’s just the turkey trots.” 

Keeling feels confident that the team will end up winning the NJCAA Championship in November as they continue to improve their running capabilities. 

“It’s not going to be easy but I’m still confident that we’ll come out on top,” Keeling said. “Wanting to be better, to continue to push yourself, and see how much you can keep pushing that limit” is what’s going to carry everyone across the finish line.