He had a natural talent but needed refinement. He caught the eye of his P.E. coach, and before you knew it, he was winning state championships for Manual High School.
His name is Yared Nuguse.
With family roots trailing back to Ethiopia, his parents came to the United States in the 1980s as immigrant refugees. As the only runner, he’s become a standout in his family.
“To go from a kid that hadn’t done any sort of athletics other than bowling until the middle of his freshman year to somebody who’s already won multiple state championships has been a pretty wild ride,” says distance coach Tim Holman.
“He is a next-level talent. I can take credit to a degree for team success, but it is a little more difficult for me to take credit for individual success. He was blessed with some amazing talent. But what has also helped him is that he doesn’t overthink what he is doing. He’s very focused, but he has always been somebody who is very responsive to different race strategies and he doesn’t get too caught up in mental mind games and things like that. He just goes out to run and that’s been great to coach a kid like that.”
Nuguse, now in his final year at Manual, didn’t plan on leaving behind any records at the beginning, but now that his name is attached to a few, he wants to be remembered as a beacon for more male runners at Manual. “We have a very successful girls team, so I want it to be a high-reaching goal for everyone else,” he says.
Currently leading the state in the 800m, 1600m, 1 mile and 3200m, Holman says his endurance and efficiency will enhance his impact on the next level. As Nuguse prepares for Notre Dame, he says he’s excited about the competition on the collegiate ranks and believes that will be the spark to keep him more focused in college. It shouldn’t be much of an issue for a young man who embodies mental toughness.
“If it is the 800m or the 2 mile, it is important to be focused. I know if I lose that focus, I’m not going to be able to come back and kick it at the end or maintain my pace. I have to keep my mental focus and toughness. I know it is going to be hard, but bearing through that is really important for me,” Nuguse adds.
“By it being my last track season in high school, I’ve been working really hard to have my last peak at this moment because it’s been such an important experience for me these past few years. As for working hard, we’ve had to work through the winter and different types of weather, but the small things we do in practice, it’s all been important to get me where I am.”
He’s overcome adversity, by starting as a novice to taking pictures as a state champion, and Holman’s main focus throughout the process has been maturing Yared more and more as a racer.
“His first few races, he would go fast for 100 meters and then slow down for 100 meters. We were really working from square one. He was running against some kids who had been running since primary school and that was a real adjustment for him as well. The biggest adjustment over the last year or so has been to try and mature him more as a racer. He had a tendency to what we call a sit and kick. So we worked on maturing his race strategy and getting him to be able to win and be successful in different ways.”
As a young man who’s never had a bad day, Nuguse has balanced both his successes and failures, keeping an even keel. And perhaps the most intriguing aspect to his athletic successes is that there isn’t an ounce of jealously from his teammates or from the track and field community.
“You would be hard-pressed to find someone who does not like Yared Nuguse,” says Holman. “He’s just a great young man to be around, even when he is kicking your butt.” VT