Kentucky NON Particpants Write about their Experience

Looking at the results for the 2009 Nike Outdoor Nationals, the Kentucky performances were outstanding.  Without actually looking it up, I am assuming Kentucky had the most athletes participate in Nike Outdoor Nationals probably ever, which is great.  To try to shine a light on the experience, gave all the Kentucky athletes who attended a chance to write what they wanted about the experience.  Thanks go to Courtney Siefert, Dalan Carter, Emma Brink, Justin House, Kyle Hocker, Leigh Allin, Matt Hillenbrand, Nathan McKinney, Patrick Stuart, Robbie Scharold, and Ryan Smith for taking the time to answer my question.  The guide question is in italics below and the responses follow each athlete’s name.


Overall, what did you think of your experience at Nike Outdoor Nationals? (The atmosphere, competition level, the heat, the trip in general)


Courtney Siefert (Lloyd Memorial) – 19:57 5000m Run, 5:31 Mile Run


I plan on doing it again next year, and I’m expecting greater things to happen. Hopefully, the heat won’t get me next time. Lol... 97 degrees isn't to fun to run in.  It was a great experience! I've never ran with the competition I had up there. It was all new to me. I didn't do to well because I was so nervous. The athletes down there made up for it, though, and I plan on working harder, that way I get my chance to run with the big dogs twice as good.


Dalan Carter (Dixie Heights) 21st Place 1600m Sprint Medley Team


The atmosphere was incredible. The meet had by far the most talented runners in the country, and it was a blessing to be able to compete against such great athletes. The heat made you run faster so you could get off the track. And besides the bed bugs at the Econo Lodge everything else was amazing.


Emma Brink (Sacred Heart) 4:58.43 Mile Run


The Nike Outdoor Nationals was, without question, one of the most exciting experiences in my running career. The race, held in beautiful Greensboro, North Carolina, consisted of the sport’s top athletes and presented me with a great opportunity—the chance to measure myself and my abilities against runners across the country. I must confess that I was star-struck by the presence of so many accomplished runners (three girls had previously clocked 4:45 in the mile), but it provided me the competition necessary to achieve my best. I was placed in the first of three heats, which momentarily phased my concentration, but, as I prepared for the race, I saw the wide breadth of athleticism that resulted in girls from all three heats placing. Watching Chelsey Sveinsson run a 4:40 mile was amazing. She looked strong at the end of her race, truly unbelievable! The ability to compete with the nation’s best produced a P.R., a new Kentucky record, national exposure, and a way to become friends with girls who are similar to me.

Another bonus of the race was that I received an enroute 1500m time while running the mile race. I had no idea that I received a 1500m time and place until I read about it on Milesplit when I returned home. The atmosphere at NON was like going to a college race with the Jumbotron showing replays of previous races including many athletes that I have read about on National Milesplit. It also was great seeing familiar faces from Kentucky (St. X runners) and cheering for each other. Hopefully, more Kentucky runners will consider coming next year. I also enjoyed the Nike apparel for sale and seeing past and present Nike Indoor and Outdoor National bags everywhere.

In addition, the location was perfectly placed; Greensboro is a city full of southern charm and usually fair weather. The weekend, unfortunately, proved to be incredibly hot, which probably resulted in slower times for all (except for Robbie and Matt, congratulations!). Located in close proximity are some the nation’s premier universities, which I had the good fortune to visit with my family. All in all, I can undoubtedly say that my trip to the Nike Outdoor Nationals helped me grow as a runner. I came home wanting to train harder, compete more often, and definitely return next year.


Justin House (Apollo) 1:56.24 800m Run


The experience was great. How often do you have so many people who love the sport all at one place? Whether you excel or don’t quite perform as you had hoped at Nike you will still gain a lot from the experience.

The competition level is superb! You are never bored watching events at Nike and you never know when you might see a new record go down.

As for the heat I’d have to say it is worth it. With all the action going on you fail to notice the temperature, even while competing...

The whole trip was a blast. It's a long ride down but one well worth it.


Kyle Hocker (Dixie Heights) 21st Place 1600m Sprint Medley Team


It was a new insightful experience


Leigh Allin (Henry Clay) 10-11.50 Pole Vault


Nike was, hands down, the most exciting meet I've ever been to. The competition was outstanding, and I was able to meet some of the best athletes from around the country. I only wish I could've been there last year! I've never seen so many college coaches outside of a collegiate meet. Also, my coach at Virginia Tech got to watch me vault in person for the first time. I didn't vault as high as I would've liked (all my poles were too small after the adrenaline kicked in!), but I was just happy to have been there.

Regarding the heat--it was brutal 90+ degrees. Despite the heat, the meet officials did a great job trying to keep us cool. Three tents were set up by the runway and cold water was nearby which made the heat bearable.

The atmosphere was electric. No other high school meet brings in athletes of this caliber from all over the country like Nike does. It was also great preparation for next year, since meets will only get more competitive and have higher starting heights. I would encourage any athlete who qualifies to make the trip. Even if someone's just shy of the qualifying standard, I would still try to get in. I think about a quarter the vaulters were at least an inch or two shy of the 12-1 qualifying mark.

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend. I met a ton of great athletes and coaches, not to mention watched some really great performances! My only criticism is that is was a big money sucker, but the experience was definitely worth it and I would do it again if I could.


Matt Hillenbrand (St. Xavier) 1:54.31 800m Run


My time at Nike Outdoor Nationals was awesome. The atmosphere at Nike was amazing.  It's not everyday that you get to watch Chalonda Goodman run a 22.9 (200m) or Reggie Wyatt hurdle a 49.78 (400m). Another thing is that everyone down there is so supportive of each other. Even if people don't know who you are they are still cheering, much like one girl I sat by who cheered for Emma and said she didn't know who she was, she was just cheering her on. Also, the competition level compared to Kentucky is completely opposite. In my opinion the level at NON is one that would prepare anyone who plans on running in college. Overall, my experience at NON was truly amazing, except for the heat and some stronger winds, I think everyone could have done without that, but most importantly I made some new friends and gained a lot of experience getting to run with some top-notch athletes and I highly encourage all Kentucky athletes to try to get to either NIN or NON next year because it’s a great learning experience.


Nathan McKinney (Dixie Heights) 21st Place 1600m Sprint Medley Team


Being able to run at NON was a great accomplishment. Walking in you feel like it's a completely different universe but once we stepped on the track we felt right at home. The competition was great, unlike anything I've ever seen in Kentucky. Luckily I only had to run a 200 so the heat was not a major factor but I really felt for the distance runners.


Patrick Stuart (Barren County) 54-10 Shot Put


It was a great, tough competition. I really enjoyed the trip down there. The weather could have been much cooler, but I had to just get over that heat and throw. It was a great meet with a greater atmosphere


Robbie Scharold (Campbell County) 1:54.38 800m Run, 50.05 400m Dash


I think meets such as NIN and NON are great for the athletes who are capable of being competitive up there. By that I mean you don't send a 2:05 800 runner to NIN, more like a 2:00 or faster indoor runner not their lifetime best. You go to those kinds of meets to perform your best on a much bigger stage than anything our state has to offer. The number of college coaches/scouts at these meets is unbelievable and the exposure you get is just amazing.

I don't believe that the heat was a problem for Kentucky athletes, it was something you knew was going to be there and had to simply deal with it by hydrating and staying out of the heat as much as possible. You can't use the heat as a factor when you look at Trevor Dunbar, who lives in Kodiak, ALASKA (yes Alaska) and comes and breaks 8:50 for the 2 mile. Looking at the results you can see other teams from colder states up northeast that performed just as well as someone from let’s say, Texas or California.

Also, when you run at these meets there is a significant amount of LESS stress than at your typical Kentucky meet, at least for myself personally. I believe the main reason for this is cause you know you're just racing to run as good as you can not necessarily to win (there are exceptions like Matt Hillenbrand in the emerging elite section of the 800). I went into these kinds of races with the mind set of, hey I made it here let's just execute the plan and run your best. And that kind of mind set also you to relax and run your best. I was even more relaxed at the Midwest Distance Gala because I didn't even expect to win my heat, just hit my pace and stick with it.

The experience is simply enough to encourage more athletes to come, seeing guys that you only read about online actually performing at such high levels and making it look effortless is simply amazing. Just recognizing all the talent makes you realize how much better you can get and it helps to feed that desire within yourself.

As for the atmosphere of the meet, there is nothing like NIN, NON and MDG. MDG was especially amazing cause you are aware that every single athlete there is a distance runner and the crowd is so knowledgably. It was just an unreal experience running at MDG. Instead of getting nervous for a race you get pumped up after watching your fellow distance runners blaze the track it makes you believe, hey if they can do it why can't I? The atmosphere alone is enough to push a runner let alone the competition.

It is my firm belief that Kentucky would benefit as a whole from going to these kinds of meets and having these kinds of experiences, seeing that there is more out there than simply qualifying for state (not to take away from that honor). I simply mean that when you go meets such as these it pushes you to a whole other level and makes you believe that you can get to the level of guys such as Mac Fleet, Andrew Springer and Trevor Dunbar. And even if you don’t, simply having that extra motivation will make the state better as they all strive to achieve those kinds of levels.


Ryan Smith (Dixie Heights) 16:26 5000m Run, 21st Place 1600m Sprint Medley Team


Nike Outdoor Nationals can be described in one word ELECTRIC! From the moment you come into Greensboro and step onto the North Carolina A&T track you can feel it. There are studs everywhere! I personally saw Solomon Haile, Trevor Dunbar, Cholanda Goodman, Tavarius Tate etc... all in one meet! This therefore leads to great competition (best of the year by far) and US #1's across the board. If you want a fast time and a chance to compete with the best Nike is the place to go. So with all these fast times who do you think shows up to these meets? Coaches, coaches, and more coaches. Michigan, Wisconsin, Stanford, Syracuse, all had coaches there eying future talent for their respected programs. Nike is a great way to expose yourself to these kinds of programs which can only help if you plan to run in college.

Now with every great meet there are some downsides. Number one if you ride by car from the Kentucky area its going to be several hours. (My muscles will never forgive me for that long car ride and having to run two hours after I arrived.) Also the heat and humidity this year was an issue, especially for the distance events. (I myself was heat target cramping in the 5k from dehydration.) Finally you have to pay for hotel and entry fees (which are I think 45 per event) so money might be an issue to some people.

But does the good outweigh the bad ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!! We need more Kentucky athletes represented not just for state pride but also to expose our athletes to the nation as a whole. I know my performance at 2009 Nike Outdoor was a little disappointing (ran a lot slower than I wanted in the 5k) but this didn’t diminish my experience at all because I still got to watch great athletes for two days run great races which motivated myself to do better next time. (USATF Youth is right around the corner ha-ha.) So do I think Kentucky athletes should go to NON YES! It’s a trip you won’t soon forget.