May 14, 2009
LOGAN, Utah -
By Raelle Cunningham, USU Athletics Media Relations
With the Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships being held at Utah State for the first time, tension and anxiety is high for the athletes, but for Nick Karren it is just another race and just another chance to run on fresh legs. And if all goes well, Karren's legs can help him make his way back to nationals.
Going to nationals as a sophomore was a great accomplishment, but took its toll on Karren's legs holding him back with injuries his junior year. After missing the 2008 outdoor season due to this injury, Karren is well rested and excited about competing for the conference championship on his home track this week.
"Nick is a team captain, a great athlete, and he's probably one of the hardest workers on the team," veteran USU head coach Gregg Gensel said. "He's a powerhouse. He's a great athlete. I'm not predicting he'll win everything he's entered in, but he's willing to sacrifice his personal goals for the team's needs by doing more events, knowing that he's got the regionals and nationals later."
Karren, who is a native of Duchesne, Utah (Duchesne HS), used his injury to motivate him not just for this season, but for the future as well.
"Being injured was really hard because I could not compete but it gave me the chance to rest up for the next season. I am just glad it happened when it did and not at the end of my college career," said Karren.
Karren's leg injury was diagnosed as compartment syndrome, which made it very painful for him to run and even walk. His muscles became too big for the space provided in his legs which caused the muscles to twist. But after going through multiple surgeries to release the pressure in his muscles, he is back and doing better then ever.
To keep his legs fresh for the WAC Championships, he has been doing most of his practices in the pool. This keeps his legs from having too much pressure put on them. Nick also works with hurdles and running short distances in order to keep his mind and body in zone.
The 400 meter hurdles will be Karren's main event for the upcoming WAC Championships, along with the 400m dash and 400m relay race.
"Depending on the athletes from other schools, I may be running in a few other events," Karren said. "We also have to see where we can get the most points for the team."
Karren is the fastest 400m hurdler on the USU team this season. During the indoor season, Karren won the WAC Championship in the 400m dash. He enters this week's WAC Championship meet with the fastest 400m hurdles time and the second-fastest time in the 400m, so he has a good chance of gaining points for his team as Utah State goes for the team championship.
"He's one of those guys that coaches dream to have because he's always willing to do whatever he can for the team, he's always saying `I'll do whatever you need coach, or what can I do coach, what do you need me to do.' He's always trying to do more and always willing to do whatever you ask him to do," Gensel said. "The thing that he means most is that he's the ultimate and team player."
The Aggie men have done well in the past, winning the WAC Outdoor Championships in 2007 and the indoor title in 2008. USU also finished second in both last year's outdoor meet and this season's indoor championships.
"After losing to Boise State in the 2007 indoor season by only two points, the team had a strong desire to come back and win the outdoor season in 2007 and the indoor season in 2008," Karren said. "We were second to them again last year in outdoors and this season in indoors, so we're hoping we can win the championship on our home turf this season."
Even though Karren is a senior, he will be able to compete one more year for Utah State and have one more chance to make it to nationals. After medical-redshirting last outdoor season due to his injury, Karren will have one more season of eligibility for the outdoor season.
Karren said his greatest accomplishment thus far at USU was going to the NCAA National Championships as a sophomore in 2007. Not only because he was good but he was so young when it happened.
"Going to nationals as a sophomore was such a great experience for me. It is not very common to have a true sophomore make it. Other sophomores have made it to nationals but they were not true sophomores, so for me to able to go was a real honor," said Karren, who finished 15th at the NCAA National Championship meet in the 400m hurdles.
Karren has had many accomplishments in track and field while at USU. At the 2008 WAC Indoor Championships, he won the 400m hurdles, 60m hurdles and the 4x400m, after winning the 400m hurdles at the 2007 WAC Outdoor Championships. He also had the honor of being named 2008 WAC Indoor Male Athlete of the Year and earned first-team all-WAC accolades in both 2007 and 2008.
Karren is the only person in his family to compete at the collegiate level and wishes to work with athletes the rest of his life. After he graduates with a degree in exercise sciences, he plans to pursue a career in athletic training or physical therapy.
Utah State is hosting the 2009 Western Athletic Conference Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships Wednesday-Saturday, May 13-16 at the Ralph Maughan Track Stadium.
Multi-events were held Wednesday and Thursday while the rest of the events will begin Friday, May 15 with field events starting at 12:30 p.m. with running events beginning at 2 p.m. On Saturday, field event get underway at 12:30 p.m. with running events starting at 5 p.m., with the final event of the championships starting at 7:25 p.m.
All-session passes for Friday and Saturday are $20 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and youth. Single-session tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for senior citizens and youth. WAC students are fee with student ID. All tickets are available at the entrance of the Ralph Maughan Track Stadium. For complete ticket information for the WAC Outdoor Championships, contact the USU Ticket Office at 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
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