Warrior Of The Week: Nichols, Givens

BOYS WINNER: Travis Nichols - Junior @ Land O'Lakes

More mileage. It might sound simple, but that has been the key to success for Land O'Lakes standout Travis Nichols. The senior has added about 200 more miles in 2012 than in 2011. Coach Kris Keppel says they have added more six mile tempo and six mile steady state runs and holding off a little longer with the 400's and speed workouts. Through seven meets, Nichols has two runner-up finishes and two wins. He won the Run With The Bulls Invitational two weeks ago and followed it up with a victory at the Sunshine Athletic Conference Championship. Coach Keppel says his game plan coming into the race to improve his first and second milesplits.

"He was well below both splits going out at 4:58 in the first and 10:09 through two. This was due to the excellent preparation from the previous three weeks workouts and course conditions; low cut grass, flat terrain, and cool temperature of 69 degrees. Last Tuesday, Travis broke out a 34:37 6 mile tempo run with his running partner Tyler Stahl. That's a 5:46 pace, so I knew both juniors were ready to take the SAC and finish one-two for the second week in a row."

Nichols crossed the line in a new personal best of 15:48. It was the first time two Land O'Lakes runners broke sixteen minutes in one race and the first time the school finished first in the team standings in back-to-back weeks. Both wins have come at a great time as the postseason looms. Keppel is proud of Nichols performance as well as the whole team and knows that is the mindset his team needs to be in during this time.

"I was very proud of him and the whole team. Over the past two weeks, Travis has looked stronger and raced more aggressively than at the beginning of the season.  He has sparked his team to give their vert best and the team has responded with him."
 
Coach Keppel describes Nichols as the "mileage king" and adds he is a workhorse as far as completing workouts, training, and studying the competition. Although, Nichols is not one of this year's captains Coach Keppel says he leads by example and could go down as one of the best runners he's coached at Land O'Lakes.

""He leads by example at every workout.  He will talk to he teammates when he feels it is appropriate to motivate them privately or cheer them on.  His is a great listener when you are one-on-one with him.  He is one of the most mature runners I have ever coach. Mature meaning knowledge of the sport and he absorbs running knowledge and experiences very well.  He will be the best runner to graduate from LOL he has the potential to be a state champion."

Travis' Athlete Profile

GIRLS WINNER: Rachel Givens - Senior @ Chiles


Rachel Givens was part of a Chiles dynasty that won two 3A team titles and finished runner-up in 2011. Teammates Lily Williams and Carly Thomas finished second and third. Givens was fifth in 18:08.82. On any other team in the past three years she would have been the number one runner. She ran like one and scored valuable points on her Timberwolve's team.

Following cross country, she had a stellar track season running sub five minutes, 4:58.96 for 1600 meters and placing third at the 3A outdoor state meet. Givens also finished fifth in the 3200 at state crossing the line in 10:53.87. Chiles finished second in the team standings just like in cross country. It would seem as if with some quality training in the offseason like Coach Gowan's squads are accustomed to, Givens would be a huge threat when the 2012 school year and cross country season kicked off. That wasn't the case at the beginning.

The Chiles standout finished seventh at the Ponte Vedra Invitational in 19:54.90 and won the first week of October at the Jesse Owens Classic clocking a time of 19:06.15. It was this past weekend at the Panhandle Championships where Givens was true to form. The senior dominated the field of 164 runners at the Marianna Sports Complex. She broke the 18 minute barrier in a personal best time of 17:54, eight seconds shy of a course record, and thirty-five seconds faster than runner-up Rachel Kling of Pace.

It was a welcome back party for Givens and a renewed sense of confidence heading into the district, regional, and state meet. 3A will be one of the toughest classifications with the likes of Emily Edwards, Nikita Shah, and a very tough Estero squad lead by Kacy Smith, but if you look at the top times in the class Givens ranks right up there with the best. Her 17:54 is third behind Shah and Edwards who went 17:48 and 17:43 respectively on a fast Chain of Lakes Park at the flrunners.com Invitational. Her time is the fourth best regardless of class. It will be definitely an interesting November and if their is one thing history has shown us is Chiles likes to win state titles. Givens could be the next to hoist the trophy for the Timberwolves.

Rachel's Athlete Profile