It wouldn’t be surprising if Nick Ciolkowski grew complacent looking at the season.

The junior cross country runner is the two-time reigning Colonial Athletic Association individual conference champion. But going into this season, he’s still aiming to capture the title, and he’s more confident than ever from his unique offseason regime.

“Another guy on the team and I spent the summer altitude training in Colorado,” Ciolkowski said. “He and I are feeling pretty great right now coming off that. I know a lot of the other guys on the team have put in a lot of summer mileage, so I’m pretty excited for what we can do this year.”

New head coach Kevin Jermyn is also encouraged by his star runner’s work ethic. Having his best athletes be one of his hardest working is a solid standard for the rest of the team, he said.

“[He’s] more fit than he’s ever been,” Jermyn said. “He seems hungry. I know that Nick is pretty fired up to go out there and see if he can win a third title and do it in front of a home crowd.”

Jermyn said that he is confident in Ciolkowski’s ability to do just that.

“Nick has a really good head on his shoulders. I know he’s really excited to go out there and go for a third title. But to be clear I think his sights are beyond that to really break through to the national level and make it to the national championships.”

Outside of competing in the conference, Ciolkowski’s vision is much larger. His goal is to run in the NCAA tournament. And because of his offseason, he feels he can.

“This season, the big goal is qualifying for nationals,” Ciolkowski said. “That is the big driving force all the way. Obviously I’d love to pick up another win at the individual level at the CAAs, but I’d like to see [the team] finish second...that’s another big goal.”

Last season, the Elon men’s team finished in third place behind Northeastern University as William & Mary University cruised to a win for the 17th consecutive year. Ciolkowski clocked a quick time of 25:08.10 in the 8K race, nearly 13 seconds faster than the runner-up.

And when it comes to individual goals, Ciolkowski is following in the footsteps of another great Elon runner. Luis Vargas is the only Elon runner to qualify for the national championships in Eugene, Oregon, where he earned First-Team All-American honors in 2015. Vargas also holds the school record when he ran the league meet with a time of 24:11.37.

Ciolkowski looks to chase down that time and be the second Elon runner to advance to Eugene.

“He’s pretty fortunate that somebody else has laid the path that was really high level,” Jermyn said. “He’s still chasing after them. I think there is still room to grow.”

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“I feel like there isn’t too much pressure. I feel like [Ciolkowski] hasn’t gotten to where he wants to be...he’s just that good.”


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