CC assistant coach earns spot on U.S. Mountain Running Team

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COLORADO SPRINGS – Alex Nichols is making 2013 a year to remember.
Nichols, who earned All-America honors in cross country at Colorado College as a senior in fall of 2007 and currently serves as an assistant coach at CC under Ted Castaneda, won the 14th annual Barr Trail Mountain Race earlier this month.

Then, last Sunday, he fulfilled a longtime dream by earning a spot on the United States team of six runners scheduled to compete in Poland this September at the 29th World Mountain Running Championships.

"It's a huge honor – something I have been wanting to do ever since graduating from CC," said Nichols, who accomplised the feat with a sixth-place finish at the U.S. Championships in North Conway, N.H. "In the last few years I had come up short of making the team but this year I stayed patient and worked my way through the field to grab the last team spot in the final 200 meters of the race."

Nichols finished the 12-kilometer course, which consisted of three 4K loops up and down the mountainside, in a time of 58 minutes and 17 seconds, less than two minutes behind winner Joe Gray (56:23) of Renton, Wash.

"I think the difficulty of the course really played to my strengths," Nichols said. "But I'm still really shocked that I was finally able to pull it off, especially with the quality of this year's competition."

Joining him and Gray on the American team in Poland will be Zach Ornelas (56:28) of Ann Arbor, Mich., Max King (56:45) of Bend, Ore., Glenn Randall (57:58) of Mesa, Colo., and Ryan Hafer (58:11) of Colorado Springs.

Nichols, 28, out-kicked 24-year-old Andy Wacker (58:44) of Boulder by 27 seconds for the final qualifying spot.