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Sports

Yared Nuguse runs with a purpose

| Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Dentists. Races. Friendships.

At the age of 13, Yared Nuguse knew he wanted to be a doctor. He loved science, he loved talking to people and he loved helping. One day, while getting his braces checked, Nuguse told his orthodontist about his aspirations to help people through medicine. His orthodontist recommended that the teenager become the best doctor he knew existed: an orthodontist.

A sophomore currently studying biochemistry at Notre Dame, Nuguse chose to study under the Dome because of the balance between academics and athletics. Nuguse wanted a top-notch education to help him realize his goals of becoming a dentist of some sort, but he also wanted to continue to do something he’s very good at: running.

In freshman year of high school, Nuguse caught the eye of his school’s track and field coach. After displaying impressive physical ability during his physical education class, he earned an invitation to represent his school on the track. Four years later upon graduating from Dupont Manual High School in Louisville, KY., Nuguse had won the Kentucky Cross Country State Championship and in his senior year placed first in the 800m, 1600m and 3200m at the Kentucky Class AAA Track and Field Championships.

Before visiting Notre Dame, Nuguse had no idea where the University was. Once having been on campus and experiencing Irish football however, he knew exactly where he wanted to spend his undergraduate years.

“I didn’t even know where Notre Dame was until like end of September of senior year. I was like, ‘oh Notre Dame, cool’. After my visit though, I instantly fell in love. It’s a great place to be — I visited during a football game — and it just seemed like I could get everything I wanted here,” Nuguse said.

In his early running days, Nuguse would run because he knew it was something he was good at but, nowadays, Nuguse runs for something bigger.

“I started [running] just because it seemed like it was something I was good at. My dad, my friends, my family would ask me ‘oh you should go run’. I was like, ‘okay’. Eventually, especially now, it’s more of running for the sake of your team. We’re a strong team of guys and every time I’m out there — if I’m ever struggling — it’s easier to think, ‘I’m running for them,’” he said.

Humble yet aware of his ability, Nuguse knows that many people see him as an inspiration. Back home in Louisville, members of his high school’s cross-country team talk about how high he’ll go, some hoping that he makes it to the Olympics — although, he’s currently focused on getting through college first. Despite the high expectations, Nuguse has always remained grounded in his joy for running.

“Not really, no. For me, the pressure has always been on the school side. Running, at least I don’t think, shouldn’t be some other form of stress or pressure, it should be something I can come out and enjoy to do,” Nuguse said. “I want to run faster times, absolutely, and hopefully I will but, I’m not stressing out about running those faster times. The team depends on each other so, yeah they depend on me to do well but, I also depend on them.”

Since he started running, Nuguse has been known for being able to find a second wind towards the end of races and practices. Pushing himself towards the point where he sprints into another gear, Nuguse developed his “push,” evolved from intrinsically motivating himself to trying to motivate his teammates to do the same.

“I’m kind of known for pushing the back end of workouts and races. I kind of see myself as something to strive for, at the end anyway,” he said. “At the end I always feel like I can summon up some power that just allows me to give it everything I have at the end and I want the other guys to be able to do that too.”

Nuguse had a stellar debut season running for the Irish and will seek to improve upon that opening campaign this year. What Nuguse thinks is the best part of this Irish team isn’t the facilities, the free gear, or the “Fighting Irish” mantra. What’s best are the friends.

“I think [the comradery] is the best part of it, how close we are to each other. It’s hard to be a great team if you’re not close to each other. The little things we do where we hang out together, it just makes me really happy, because I really know those guys, they know me, and we’re all in it together,” Nuguse said.

Following that, it comes to no surprise that Nuguse values friendship. Outside of academics and athletics, what he aims to get out of Notre Dame is lifelong friends.

“I’ve always treasured friendship a lot. My family talks about, ‘you want to extend your family’. I really want to get a lot of true friendships out of this, out of running or school. Out of Notre Dame, I want lifelong people I can just trust and be around,” he said.

Irish fans can see more of Nuguse on September 14th as he will kick off his sophomore cross country campaign with the Irish at the National Catholic Invitational.

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