The Post-Journal

Swanson Runs To ACC Title

Becomes First Wake Forest Man To Win Conference Championship

A year ago, Nolan Swanson earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors.

He took an even bigger stride Saturday.

Swanson, a 1994 graduate of Sherman Central School, became the first Wake Forest man to ever win at the Atlantic Coast Conference cross-country championships and he did it in grand style.

The junior toured the 8-kilometer terrain at the University of Maryland golf course in 24:11 to set a new course record. Swanson's time eclipsed the previous record of 24:21.

Swanson ran stride for stride with Chan Pons of North Carolina State and edged him at the line by about two meters. They exchanged the lead several times, but Swanson kicked ahead for the final time in the last half-mile.

"When I got recruited, I just wanted to win a race," he said. "It took me three years... I never thought about winning the conference.

"I just had it in my head the last couple of weeks that I had a chance. I haven't been able to concentrate on anything else."

Swanson's father, Mel, was on hand to see his son's achievement unfold.

"It was a neat experience. Small town boy..." he said. "This year he has been steady. He has moved into running No. 1 on the team in the last two races."

The most difficult part of the race for Nolan Swanson was when to make a move.

"It was kind of a slow pace out through a mile. I had to stay patient and not just go," he said. "Coach (John Goodridge) was just telling me to stay with the leaders. It was hard to stay patient because I felt so good.

With a quarter mile to go, I pretty much knew I had it. It's real overwhelming. I didn't know what to do when I won."

Earlier this season, Swanson was the top Wake Forest finisher - he was 15th overall - in a pre-national run at the University of Arizona in Tucson, which featured several of the nation's best teams.

"That's a good indication he was going to have a good chance today," added Mel Swanson.

The University of Arizona is where the NCAA Division 1 competition will be held later this month. If Swanson can finish in the top 25 Americans, he will earn All-American status.

Swanson, who was seventh overall at last year's ACC championships, is excited about running in Tucson.

"I have that on my mind," he said. "That's the next big thing."

The Demon Deacons were second in the ACC team title race behind the Wolfpack of N.C. State.

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