Q&A with cross country runner Nick Wolk


Barry Shenck

First-year Nick Wolk will race at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals over the weekend. Courtesy of Pitt Athletics

Before driving 45 minutes to McMurray, Pennsylvania, to cast his vote in the election, first-year runner Nick Wolk caught up with The Pitt News prior to Friday’s NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals.

Wolk is wrapping up a standout first season with the Panthers, including a 50th place finish at the ACC Championships over the weekend. He finished third for Pitt’s men’s team with a time of 24:28.9 in the 8k race.

With his first collegiate 10k race this weekend, Wolk spoke about the reason he chose Pitt, teammates he looks up to and individual and team goals for the regional tournament in University Park, Pennsylvania.

The Pitt News: So what made you decide to come to Pitt? And what was it like to meet the coaches and get recruited out of high school?

Nick Wolk: Well, both my parents went here, and my brother goes here, so it was kind of always a dream for me to represent Pitt athletically.

Coach [Jackson]’s first day here, actually, I came to his office and talked to him. I just expressed my interest and then had a good [final] cross country season [in high school], and he started to show interest in me.

TPN: Earlier in the season, you won ACC Cross Country Freshman of the Week. What did that mean for you to get that recognition so early in your collegiate career?

NW: That meant a lot to me. Being in the ACC has always been a dream of mine — the power conference — with some of the best runners in the country and be recognized at that level. I definitely want to be competing with the best freshmen in the country.

TPN: What was it like to start practicing with the other guys on the team for the first time?

NW: I love the atmosphere with the other guys. I’ve never had such a competitive group of guys around me that could push me everyday. They’re great friends and great athletes.

TPN: Are there any guys on the team that you look up to, whether they’re fellow first-years or upperclassman runners?

NW: Oh yeah. Matt McGoey, he’s a sophomore on the team, through high school he was always the guy I looked up to. I always thought I wanted to be like him. We were from the same area, so I’d competed against him, behind him before. But when I got here, there’s a bunch of guys with attitudes I respect. Mike Runco and Aaron Lauer — the two guys who are usually ahead of me — I respect them a lot.

TPN: Is there anyone on the women’s team that’s been a motivating factor?

NW: Gillian Schriever — first of all, having an amazing year — has given me a little bit of advice. She was in a similar position as a freshman: she was making huge strides but made a big jump. I hope to be like that someday. She went from 41st to fifth two years in a row, and after a great freshman year, she had an even better sophomore year.

TPN: Coming off of the ACC Championships, what are some of your goals for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals?

NW: Coming into the season, as a team, we wanted to be top seven, and we definitely think that we can do that — even exceed that. And for me, personally, I want to be in the top group of freshmen, racing up with the top pack. Other than that, just having solid time for my first 10k.

TPN: What was the hardest race for you this season? And with the season’s end approaching, what would you say is your biggest takeaway so far?

NW: The Roy Griak Invitational race in Minnesota. The conditions were pretty terrible, and it was a new experience for me being in a tough competition. I learned a lot about myself and changed my attitude in that race. It was a very fast start and a big pack of very condensed runners going very fast, so that being my first very fast race made it challenging.

I learned that I have to be a little more aggressive, both in my training and in my racing. First year was a bit of an adjustment, and I’ve learned. Definitely didn’t make the same excuses I made in high school — that I’m just a freshman, I’m just a sophomore or those guys should be better than me. So I’ve got to learn to leave that behind and compete at the top level now.