State Colleges

Newman senior forced to run with pain

Newman senior cross country runner Nick Abbott would obviously rather not have the end of his senior season hampered by an injury.

He can't avoid it, though, and Abbott is doing his best not to let the pain get to him.

Abbott, who will run with Newman teammates in the Heartland Conference Championships today in Dallas, has been bothered by soreness in his lower right leg. Doctors haven't made an official diagnosis but it is believed to be a stress fracture. Abbott first felt discomfort after running in the National Catholic Championships last month.

"When I go out and run, it's extremely painful," said Abbott, who ran at Maize under current Newman coach Josh Schepis. "It starts up being painful, but it will loosen up after a little bit. But the longer distances I go, the more intense the pain gets as the run goes on."

The injury came at the wrong time for Abbott, who ran a season-best time in the 8k at the National Catholic Championships at Notre Dame. His finish in 26 minutes, 54.4 seconds was more than 15 seconds better than he ran at the Friends Invitational one week earlier.

The effects of the affliction were immediate — Abbott ran a 27:33 at the Oklahoma State Jamboree in Stillwater on Oct. 3. The conference race is an 8k, as opposed to a 5k race, and Abbott isn't necessarily looking forward to the greater distance.

"It's going to be a challenge, that's for sure," Abbott said. "But the team needs it. The team needs me there, so you've just got to suck it up and do it."

Abbott is looking to finish his decorated career at Newman with more accomplishments. In 2005, he and Blake Henry were the first Jets runners to qualify for the NAIA meet. Abbott was a freshman All-American. The next season, Abbott helped Newman win the Heartland Conference.

"That meant a lot," Abbott said. "At the beginning of the season, that was me and coach's goal — win our conference and qualify for nationals through regionals. It helps recruiting that we have national qualifiers now, so it means a lot to know that it helps out the university."

Abbott has dealt with injuries before. Knee damage in forced him to redshirt two seasons. He returned strong last year, being named honorable mention all-conference and finishing 12th in the Heartland championships.

This season, Abbott and Newman have run against several Division I teams and Abbott has held his own, finishing ahead of many D-I runners at Notre Dame and Oklahoma State.

"It helps out with confidence a lot, knowing that I've run against teams like Notre Dame and Oklahoma State and KU and K-State," Abbott said. "Knowing that I've run against them and performed well against them is a big mental boost, just knowing that I can do it and I have done it before."

"It really does throw things up in the air," Abbott said. "I was really looking forward to this race. I wanted to finish top three, top five, and definitely be all-conference, for sure. With the injury, it kind of throws a wrench in it. Hopefully I can run through it and help the team out and help our team win the conference."