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Interview: Nicole Jefferson
by Chris Lear

Nicole Jefferson (right) and Kristin Chisum run side-by-side in the 3,000m at the 2001 New Balance Invitational.
( Photo)

Though she was a three-time NCAA Champion on the track for Western State, running for a Division II school Nicole Jefferson wasn't in the spotlight as much as some of her current competitors.Since graduating in 1999, she has competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials (she finished 10th in her heat with a 15:55.78, barely missing the final) and has started to mix it up with some top runners. Most recently, she ran a 3,000m indoor PR of 9:10.64 at the New Balance Invitational in February and finished 24th in the 4k at the USATF Cross Country Nationals. She trains with Janet Trujillo and Sarah Toland and is coached by University of Colorado assistant coach Jason Drake. (03-23-01)

FW: Thanks for your time. Although you have posted some pretty heady results, some of our readers may not know too much about you. So, let's start with the basics. What's your hometown, current residence, college and top collegiate results.

NJ: Hometown: Arvada, CO or army brat
Residence: Arvada, CO (approximately 20 miles southeast of Boulder)
College: Western State College
Top results: Seven-time All-American in cross country and track
Two-time 3k outdoor champ
Mile indoor champ in 4:38 -- fastest collegiate indoor time of the year
Collegiate PRs:
2:07 (800m), 4:20 (1,500m), 9:17 (3,000m), 15:54 (5,000m)

FW: You opened up your track season at the New Balance Invite in February at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston. How'd you finish and were you pleased with the results?

NJ: Yes, I was pleased with the results. I went out a little to hard, but I think most people did. It was hard not to with the caliber of women in the race. I finished 6th in 9:10.

FW: Although you opened up great in Boston, cross nationals didn't quite go as planned, correct?

NJ: Cross went really poorly for me. I had a really off day. I'm pretty disappointed, but I have to look forward to track now. JD (coach Jason Drake) and I both thought I could place well from the way my workouts were going, maybe next year.

FW: You moved to Boulder recently and are now coached by Colorado assistant coach Jason Drake, who also coaches US 1,500 meter Olympian Shayne Culpepper. Why the move and what has been the biggest change in your training?

NJ: I missed Colorado so I decided to move back to be close to my family and friends. I needed a change and I always wanted to try training in Boulder. I also got a recommendation about JD from (former CU Buffalo mile all-American) Carrie Messner. He's been nothing but wonderful since we've arrived.

The biggest change in my training is the intensity of the long runs and the number of workouts we do. I came from a high intensity program where the workouts were pretty intense all of the time.

FW: You have very solid middle distance credentials. Are you planning on focusing on the 1,500 meters this spring or maybe moving up to the 5k? Any chance we'll see you running the roads at all?

NJ: I'm going to plan on running both events and see where they take me. I'd love to be a 1,500m runner, but I don't have that last lap speed that most good 1,500m runners have. Maybe that will change. I hope to give (the Freihofer's Run for Women in Albany, NY) a try. We'll see what JD thinks??

FW: Did you and Janet train together before moving here? If not, how much of a benefit is it to be training together and do you complement each other in the sense that one of you pushes the speed stuff while one is perhaps a bit stronger??

NJ: Jan and I have been training together for about a year now. I can't imagine doing it any other way! I'm the stronger one on the longer stuff with shorter rest. She's the speedster who kicks butt on the 200's and 300's. We're a good match.

FW: You both grew up at elevation, in Colorado and New Mexico. Do you feel that growing up at elevation was an advantage? And, what are the advantages and disadvantages of training up here now?

NJ: I've been at elevation 7 years now. I think it's a huge advantage.

FW: You have had a ton of success collegiately and post-collegiately. What advice do you have for high schoolers aspiring to run in college, and for collegians looking to make the jump and run post-collegiately?

NJ: Have fun! Always be looking ahead. Never settle for being second best. There is always room to improve.

FW: Good luck and thanks for your time!

Chris Lear is the author of "Running with the Buffaloes." The book chronicles the University of Colorado men's cross country team's 1998 season. Currently out of print, Lyons Press is republishing the book in hardcover in the spring of 2001. Check for details.


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