2024 Boston University John Thomas Terrier Classic

'It Hasn't Sunk In Yet.' Nico Young Becomes First Collegian Under 13 For 5K

'It Hasn't Sunk In Yet.' Nico Young Becomes First Collegian Under 13 For 5K

The Northern Arizona athlete took the lead late, then held on for a history-making finish, dropping below 13 minutes for the first time in NCAA history

Jan 27, 2024 by Cory Mull
'It Hasn't Sunk In Yet.' Nico Young Becomes First Collegian Under 13 For 5K

Nico Young didn't like his positioning.

But hey, he offered, "sometimes it's good, sometimes it's bad."

By the end of his heat in the men's 5K on Friday at the John Thomas Terrier Classic at Boston University, the Northern Arizona star was right there where he needed to be, in the front.

Young didn't end up winning the race, as he lost out to a strong final effort from HOKA Naz Elite's Adriaan Wildschutt (who also set a new South Africa record), but something better came from the effort, with the Lumberjack earning a new NCAA record with his time of 12:57.14,.

"I knew I could break 13 on my best day," Young said. "And, I mean ... it was a great day." 

In fact, Young became the first collegian to surpass the 13 minute threshold in history -- indoors or outdoors -- and took down Graham Blank's NCAA record effort of 13:03.78 from December at the same venue. 

Young, 21, also became the youngest American male to dip under 13 minutes in history, moving past Grant Fisher, who clocked a time of 12:46.96 at the age of 24. 

Young said he believed it was all made possible by his 3K at this same venue in December -- when he ran NCAA lead of 7:37.73 -- before he followed with a mile at altitude on Jan. 19 in Flagstaff. 

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That latter effort only reinforced his notions when he became the first athlete in history to run a sub-4 mile at nearly 7,000 feet in 3:57.33.

"I think running a week before, the race is so short, it didn't matter how fast it was," Young said on Friday, "it activates the system for the next week." 

While some may have scoffed at the 3:48.71 altitude conversion last week, Young's teammate, Colin Sahlman, followed up his 4:03 at altitude with a time of 3:53 on Friday inside that famed Boston University indoor track, which was right about where the modeling had suggested. 

Young said he didn't even stop to think about the performance. He was still worried about his positioning early on.

"That's amazing," he said. "It hasn't sunk in yet." 

But the overall goal, he added, was to run the Olympic standard of 13:05.

Young added that while he most likely will run the 5K at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, he may add a 10K to his resume at some point soon and could also vie for the 27:00 standard. 

Young wouldn't have much time to celebrate on Friday. 

A plane trip back to Flagstaff awaited at 10 a.m. on Saturday.