Former Canfield, current VT track star, Nick Plant, set to compete in U.S. Olympic Trials

Photos courtesy of Virginia Tech Athletics Former Canfield and current Virginia Tech runner Nick Plant competes in the 800m event at the NCAA Track & Field Nationals in Eugene, Oregon earlier this month. Plant qualified for the final in the event.

It’s been quite a sophomore campaign at Virginia Tech for Canfield alum Nick Plant.

From the NCAA indoor national meet to making the 800m outdoor finals against a strong field earlier this month, it’s been a whirlwind that isn’t slowing down anytime soon with the U.S. Olympic Trials looming.

Plant has been stationed out in Eugene, Oregon since early June, and awaits the 800m Olympic trials on June 27th. The First Team All-American will look to build off his eighth-place finish in the NCAA men’s 800m finals, where he clocked a 1:47 time. It was an improvement over his 12th-place finish during the national semifinals last year.

“This outdoor final seemed to be a lot harder than previous years to me, so the main goal was just to make that final and see what would happen when the race came,” Plant said. “I knew my training would set me up well, I just really wanted to get that top-eight spot. There were nine people in the final, so as long as I didn’t come ninth, I would have been happy. I knew I could go out there and compete, just try to get in a good position and see where it went during the race.”

Stepping foot on Hayward Field in Eugene against the elite of the elite brings out the best in everyone on the track.

“I didn’t really get the result I was hoping for, but I’m still happy with how the season went, knowing that this final was a lot harder than indoor nationals was for me,” Plant said. “Last year’s nationals was definitely a shock, just how the race played out. Everyone was just running away from me in the last 200m last year. I definitely knew I had to change a lot of things coming into this year to make that final.”

Like any sport, the journey is a long one that involves many hours of training. Plant started his fall off with cross country, then ended his indoor season in fourth place at the NCAA Indoor meet, running a 1:47.75 to earn First Team All-American Honors in the 800m.

With no breaks in-between each of the seasons, the non-stop work has been an environment that Plant has thrived in.

That’s particularly more important with the competition improving more and more each year. Nonetheless, Plant was the youngest in the outdoor 800m finals as the lone sophomore against four seniors and four juniors. Three runners ran a personal best time, including national champion Shane Cohen at 1:44.97.

Now, with focus adjusted toward the Olympic Trials, the time to peak is now.

“It’s really exciting, being top eight in the NCAA,” Plant said. It puts a lot of confidence behind me knowing that most of the guys in that 800m are going to be competing for the USA trials. So putting people competing for the USA competing in front of me, plus the pros that aren’t in the NCAA, it puts me in good confidence going in. Hopefully I can make it through a couple of rounds and hopefully make it to the final.”

Little less than a month ago, Plant and his fellow Virginia Tech teammates competed in Lexington, Kentucky at the NCAA East regional. Then had a week off before heading to Oregon for nationals.

A delayed flight and missed connection in Dallas on the way to nationals caused Plant to lose an extra day in Oregon, and he arrived the day before competition began. Having to adjust to the time zone added an extra challenge, but Plant has made the most of his time out west.

After nationals, he took part in the Portland High Performance Meet, breaking the Hokies school record in the 1500m, at 3:37.88. Having already stayed in Eugene for a few weeks, there is a comfort factor at play.

“The time change, even though this is the good way going from east to west, it still takes a toll. Now that I have my sleeping times all in order, I should be getting into a good routine for the next couple of weeks until I finally race at the trials,” Plant said. “It just feels great knowing that I have support back home that (has) supported me all the way up to this point. I’m just trying to do good for them, so I’m trying to bring back some good news.”

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