Nellum's storybook season continues at NCAAs
MAY 28, 2013 7:20p ET
It was well deserved.
On the heels of the greatest weekend of his college career, the USC Trojans’ sixth-year senior accomplished what he set out to do – qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Nellum ran a 45.97 in the 400m. In the 200m, he ran a 20.89 which was good enough to place him into the semifinals of the NCAA Championships June 6-8 in Eugene, Ore.
It wasn’t without some strain, however. The wet weather in Texas caused a six-hour and 15 minute rain delay Nellum and the rest of the competitors had to sit through. Every 30 minutes, they were informed it would be another half hour’s worth of delays.
Nellum won his 400m comfortably just before 9:30 p.m. He didn’t wrap up the 200m until nearly midnight.
“That was a little different,” Nellum said. “Everybody was just sitting around waiting.”
With the prelims wrapped up and after taking a short break, Nellum’s attention is now on the NCAAs. It’s the remaining piece of his comeback puzzle.
Nellum attributes one thing to running this season as well as he has his entire collegiate career: his health.
“I’m more healthy,” he said. “I’m comfortable running. I also have the fastest time ran in college right now (in the 400m) so that’s a confidence booster as well."
Finding a level of comfort has been difficult for Nellum throughout his entire career. He was hurt in his very first race at USC and sat out the entire 2008 season, then was shot in the leg the following offseason.
By comparison, as much of a storybook season Nellum enjoyed last year capped off by a silver medal in the 1600m relay at the Olympics and being chosen as the flag bearer for Team USA during the closing ceremonies, he finished with the fourth best time at the NCAA prelims in the 400m and 12th at the NCAA championships.
This season he’s the top 400m runner in the country after running a 44.76 at the Pac-12 championships.
A part of the reason he decided to return to USC for another year was to show what he's capable of if healthy. He can validate that decision as the favorite heading to Eugene.
“I’m just running smarter,” Nellum said. “I’m not fighting hard to qualify to get to the next round. Everything is coming comfortable for me.”
For the first time in his career, it certainly looks that way.
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