“I just realized that I had to get it done this season,” Nelson said. “I really didn’t set everything else aside, I just focused a lot more on my running. I just had to increase my work ethic and not just rely on my talent, but rely on hard work, to be successful.
“Before, I didn’t have the work ethic I should have. But now I’ve put everything that I have into it.”
Burroughs Coach John Peebles has coached Nelson since the runner’s first year in the program four years ago. Peebles said there is a reason why Nelson is running better this season.
“It took himself to realize that he had the talent to get to a high level,” Peebles said. “He showed it before in glimpses, but never over a consistent period of time. But this year, he has shown that over a consistent period of time.”
Nelson’s success has carried him to a realm not many male Burroughs cross-country runners have experienced in recent years. He is the first boys’ athlete from the school to qualify for the CIF Southern Section finals in 21 years. The last was Sasha Vujic in 1987.
Nelson will compete in the premier Division I race at 7:45 a.m. today at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut.
The Indian is not the only local to qualify for the meet. The Bellarmine-Jefferson High girls’ squad will also take part. The Guards will run at 10:45 a.m. in the Division V race.
A fine effort in the finals could lead Nelson and Bell-Jeff to the CIF-California Cross-Country Championship on Nov. 29 at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Peebles said that Nelson might have what it takes to advance to state competition.
“He is going to have to run really well to qualify,” Peebles said. “He has it in him to do it, but there’s no guarantees. At his level, with this much quality competition, all you can really do is focus on running your best and hope that it’s good enough to move on.”