Nick Lawson, a junior cross-country runner at St. Anthony Village, placed 23rd in the Maroon Division at the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 28 in a personal course-best time of 17 minutes, 19 seconds. It signaled the end of a month-long return to form for Lawson after he suffered heat exhaustion at the Tri-Metro Conference jamboree in late August.
A healthy Lawson is important to the Huskies. He has consistently been the team’s No. 1 runner the past two seasons. He earned all-conference honorable mention honors in eighth and ninth grade and made all-conference as a sophomore last fall.
Lawson placed second in the team’s first meet this season, helping the Huskies win the team title. He spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about why he joined the cross-country team, the fallout from heat exhaustion and his goals for this season.
Q: Your older brother Chris still holds the school 5K record. Was he any sort of inspiration for you to run cross-country?
A: Yes, he was my inspiration. And I understand that my uncle, who ran in college, was Chris’ inspiration. When I tried cross-country, I really enjoyed it. All the older kids were cool and it was a really great experience. And a lot of my friends were joining cross-country back in seventh grade so I decided to join with them.
Q: Did your friends stick with it?
A: Yeah, Nicolas Gulachek is our second or third runner along with Cole Grotting.
Q: What happened that led to you developing severe heat exhaustion?
A: Well, I had four bagels for breakfast, I wasn’t drinking enough water and it was really hot out. Plus, my goal this year is to break 16 minutes and I decided to try and do that. My first mile was 5:15 and I was feeling pretty good. Then the heat really started getting to me and right around the 2-mile marker I lost the feeling in my legs. That happens at most races at the very end. Then I got to the top of a giant hill and lost the feeling in my arms, too. At that time it got pretty awkward to run because I pretty much had to look at what I was doing to make sure I was still running. That’s the last thing I can remember until 20 minutes after my race. But I finished.
Q: Did you need medical attention afterward?
A: They were just trying to get stuff into me because I puked a bunch after the race. And I had a severe cramp in my right leg. I ended up going to urgent care and they gave me two bags of solution through an IV. I felt much better the next day. Since that race I’ve been working hard to get my times back down.
Q: Your coach, Travis MacLeod, said Griak was the first time you looked liked yourself since the heat exhaustion.
A: Yeah, I felt great at Griak. The nice thing about Griak is the feeling of momentum you get during a race because you have all these runners around you. It’s crazy to be in it. I got my course personal best of 17:19. Last year I got 17:30.
Q: How close have you been to reaching the state meet as an individual?
A: At the conference meet last year I ran my career personal best time of 16:40. If I would have ran that at sections, I probably would have gone to state.
Q: Did you learn something about peaking on the right day?
A: That’s kind of a tough question because I always go hard. It’s just how well you’re feeling that day. Some of it is out of your control. You’ve got to keep a positive attitude and keep on trucking.
David La Vaque