THE RECENT STANDOUT success of Northern Arizona’s Nico Young and Colin Sahlman — spectacularly on display at the John Thomas Terrier Classic — isn’t due to a single, super-special workout or overnight magic. The senior-soph duo, both formerly prep stars and teammates at Newbury Park High in California, say that consistent training in college has allowed them to build up to their latest accomplishments.
Both raced the mile on January 19 at the home meet Lumberjack Team Challenge at a whopping 6896ft (2100m) above sea level in Flagstaff. Their times turned heads. Young’s striking 3:57.33 time per the NCAA’s altitude tables for purposes of Nationals qualifying converted to 3:48.71 at sea level.
Sahlman’s 4:03.21 per the NCAA algorithm was a 3:54-equivalent. Those figures left many skeptical as to whether these seemingly insane conversions reflected what the two Lumberjacks could really run.
While the science, if there is any, behind the NCAA tables remains unsupported, a week later Young and Sahlman proved their fitness to the world at sea level. Now the talk is about the athletes. Leave wonky numbers debates for another day.
At Terrier just a week after their headscratcher altitude miles, Young and Sahlman toed the line in their respective specialties —- Young in the 5000 and Sahlman in the mile and the 3000.
Although in the closing stretch of his 25-lapper Young was outkicked by WC 10K 14th-placer Adrian Wildschutt, he blindsided fans by running to a blazing 12:57.14. His run demolished the 13:03.78 Collegiate Record that Harvard’s NCAA XC champ Graham Blanks set on the same track at BU’s Colyear-Danville Opener in early December.
Along with the CR, Young nabbed the Olympic standard while also becoming the first-ever sub-13 collegian in the 5000. Young placed 2nd in his section of an elite 5K field so deep meet organizers broke it into two evenly-seeded races. He bested pros including 5000 American Record holder/Olympian Woody Kincaid and Buddapest finalist Abdihamid Nur. The performance was a huge statement race for Young proving his fitness is at a sparkling new level, whether at altitude or sea level. But Young wasn’t the only NAU collegian to turn heads in Boston.
Sahlman competed later that same evening in a stacked mile against impressive, proven names. Among…