Regas reaching new heights at Ohio State
COLUMBUS – Nick Regas is an alumnus of several successful groups and now that he's reaching new heights at the collegiate level, he still traces a large part of his success back to his origins.
The Ohio State junior track and cross country runner recently set a new personal best by breaking the 15-minute barrier in the 5,000 meters and although sports and life in general have been much different and more challenging over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he's happy to be running and continuing the strong legacy of the distance running program at his alma mater, Jackson High School.
"It's awesome to see Jackson athletes all over the place having success," Walsh said of the many former Jackson standouts playing various college sports across the country. "I just broke 15 minutes for the 5K for the first time and my former coach at Jackson, Kevin Walsh tweeted about it ... it's great to have that connection and I credit my time at Jackson for a lot of that success."
What makes Regas' accomplishments at Ohio State even more compelling – he's an Academic All-Big Ten honoree and competed as a true freshman at the 20187 Big Ten and NCAA Great Lakes Region cross country championships – is that he's far from the only former Polar Bear making his mark on the campus. Kyle Young was a starter for the men's basketball team that made the NCAA Tournament and Yianni Skeriotis is a redshirt freshman working to earn time on the mound for the baseball team.
Track and cross country have had something of an edge on many other sports because it's not a contact sport, takes place outdoors and allows competitors to have more distance between them during competition. Still, many of the hurdles other sports have needed to clear have hit running sports as well and as such, simply being able to compete has been welcome.
"It took a while to get back into the swing of practice, but logistically I got back to normal after a few weeks being able to practice and train," Regas said. "Normal with an asterisk because you can't do things like go to dining halls together after practice and you had to make sure to wear your mask."
Cross country had a most unusual season, with only the Big Ten championship meet prior to the NCAA Tournament. Regas placed 71st with a time of 26:10.8 for the 8,000-meter course and admitted that the team had its COVID-related difficulties as several runners who'd tested positive for the virus well ahead of the Big Ten meet couldn't get their required heart scans completed in time to be cleared to race.
However, the COVID issues have largely faded since then and as the focus has shifted toward outdoor track season, there has been a renewed appreciation for simply being able to run.
"I would say any time any of us have gotten out there lately we're just thankful to have the opportunity to compete," Regas said.
Part of the disruption to his running schedule has been the absence of road races. In a typical year, Regas comes home over the summer and takes part in races such as the Jackson Night Glow 5K and North Canton Fourth of July 5K, but those events were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
They're both chances to run and stay in shape and opportunities to run alongside former teammates, former rivals and friends. Regas is eager to see those races return and has an eye on continuing to race in some capacity when his college career is over. He's also working toward his degree in business administration with a focus on marketing and while he's not sure what direction that will take him after graduation, he has an internship set up for this summer working in the fashion industry.
As one of five runners from the starting lineup in his senior season running cross country at Jackson who went on to run at the college level, he's excited about his opportunities on and off the track. Adding another chapter to the ever-growing legacy of Jackson's running success is merely one part of the story and even in the midst of a pandemic, Regas is hopeful that better days lie ahead.