Coming in third at a track meet in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, last weekend may not seem like a big deal; unless it was the first time Nicole De Almeida ever ran the 400 meter hurdle dash with a time of 1:06.10, which secured her a spot in the New England Division III championships.
“I felt pretty nervous for the race since it was my first time doing it but during the race, that kind of all went away and I just focused on getting through it,” said Almeida.
Almeida said that she was not expecting to qualify for New Englands for this event, “I wanted to finish it, feel good through it, and get over all the hurdles.”
“I always like trying new things and hurdles has always been something I wanted to do so I’m glad I finally got the chance to run it,” Almeida noted.
Although Almeida can make running the 400 meter hurdle look easy, she said that this event is difficult because running the 400 meter is hard, but getting over the hurdles is hard too.
Almeida said it is, “Enjoyable to have the fight in you and keep working hard all the way to the end.”
“I’m thrilled I’ll get another opportunity to run it and especially at NEs (New Englands) with the competitive field and great atmosphere which I think will push me to do better,” said Almeida.
As if getting third place and qualifying for New Englands after running an event for the first time wasn’t impressive enough, there is still one more detail that makes this circumstance unique.
Head Track and Field Coach Tom Pickering said, “The interesting thing is not only did she qualify for the New Englands, but she’s 1 second off from breaking the school record.”
“We think that with continued work her 400 meter hurdles time will continue to get better,” said Pickering.
Pickering noted that breaking the school record is a high motivator for De Almeida.
“The elements to be a strong hurdler and combined with her being such a strong 400 meter and 600 meter runner really bodes well for her in our conference to be up right near the front of the conference,” noted Pickering.
Taylor Bisaillon is a senior on the track and field team and practices alongside De Almeida.
“She’s very dedicated, super self motivated. She’s also very supportive of other people and I think that helps her be supportive of herself as well,” said Bisaillon.
“It’s obviously a really hard event to start learning and it is really weird to run a race and having something in your way while running it,” said Bisaillon.
Although Bisaillon wasn’t able to see the event first hand, she said she got to watch it on video afterwards.
“She ended up hitting one of the hurdles during the beginning of the race and it was really cool to watch her work through that and still finish with a great time,” Bisaillon noted.
Bisaillon said, “I just hope that she keeps improving her own time. She’s pretty close to the school record so it’d be awesome if she broke that.”
“I was really excited when I found out I qualified, I can’t wait to have another chance to run it,” concluded De Almeida.
Izzy Harris can be contacted