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Nicol Traynor Chasing Her Olympic Dream
Courtesy: Richmond Athletics
Release: 07/02/2016
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EUGENE, Ore. – The University of Richmond track & field program has a rich history of individuals competing in Olympic Trials and has even had a few Olympians in its history. Next week at the United States Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, Nicol Traynor will take her shot at the dream.

Nicol is a 2012 graduate of Richmond and was an All-American performer for the Spiders during her tenure. Since graduation she has battled a slew of injuries that kept her from competing at her highest level but on Monday when she takes the track in Eugene she will be 100 percent.

On the Fourth of July Traynor will be running in the prelim for the 3k Steeplechase having qualified with a time of 9:51. The final, should she qualify would take place on July 7 where the top three spots advance to the Olympics in Rio.

To truly understand the journey of Nicol Traynor we need to go back to Ridge HS in New Jersey. “I was an avid swimmer before I became a runner,” Traynor said of her early athletic career. “I ran cross country just to stay in shape for swimming but during my sophomore and junior years I realized where my talents fit best and I started to transition primarily to running. It was then that I started to hear from Lori and Steve (Taylor).”

Stability and academics were major factors in Nicol joining the Richmond program. Lori has been the head coach for 15 years now and Steve is not far behind that. Nicol knew she wanted to go somewhere that provided that kind of stability. “I had friends that went to other colleges and had three or four coaches throughout their careers. I didn’t want that.”

When she began her time on the track for the Spiders she ran mostly the 5k. She had always wanted to attempt the steeplechase but was told that it was in her best interest to work her way up to that. Her first try came at a last chance meet toward the end of her freshman campaign.

Nicol ran cross country, indoor and outdoor track for the Spiders and while she collected accolades at each venue she gained the most notoriety on the outdoor track. Her 3k steeplechase time of 10:11.20 at the A-10 Championships her junior year were good enough to qualify for Olympic Trials that season but she was unable to compete. She did, however, go and see the event for herself.

“It was a great opportunity for me to go see that atmosphere,” Nicol said of attending the trials. “Going there now I’ll know what to expect and there won’t be any surprises.”

Upon graduation Nicol was one of the most decorated student-athletes in program history. And since departing she has continued to run and run very well. She competed at the U.S. Championships in 2013 but ever since her injuries have forced her to battle to this point in her career.

“I see that fact that I’ve gotten to this point to be an accomplishment in itself,” Traynor said of overcoming her injuries. “I’m glad I’ve been able to stay healthy and prepare properly for this opportunity.”

She ran in the Monument 10k and won it. She runs regularly for the New Jersey/New York Track Club and says that her training while vigorous as slowed in recent weeks in order to save some gas for the trials. “We run 14 miles a day but that has been getting cut back to 12 or 13. We’ve even cut down to running harder three times a week and tapering that back as we get closer to the trials.”

The steeplechase is arguably the most unique race is all of track & field. Runners are forced to leap over several “barriers” rather than hurdles. They’re taller, wider and denser. One of those barriers has a pool of water waiting in the landing zone on the other side. Very few runners ever try to bound past the obstacle but rather accept the inevitable and splash down. Continuing on with wet feet and lower legs. It’s as much a mental race as it is a physical one.

“The last 1,000 meters are the hardest,” Traynor said of the race. “Its about confidence. You have to be confident in order to do well in this race. Getting over the barriers late in the race is a mental and physical challenge but I’ll say this; I’m lucky not to have any horror stories.”

Traynor has a tall order ahead of her at the trials. Her personal best time is 9:42 in the 3k steeplechase. She will need something close to that in order to qualify for the final. But should she qualify for the final, all bets are off. “I’m just excited to have this opportunity, finally.” 

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