Inside Track: Nash Named Male Scholar-Athlete Of The Year
Coleman Nash earned All-American honors in cross country and in outdoor track and field in the 5,000 meters. Photo by Jacob Thompson.
Coleman Nash earned All-American honors in cross country and in outdoor track and field in the 5,000 meters. Photo by Jacob Thompson.

Friday, June 10, 2022

PORTLAND, Ore. – After being able to compete only in outdoor track and field during the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, Alaska Anchorage’s Coleman Nash hit the ground running.

From the start of cross country season to the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships, Nash established himself as one of the top young distance runners in the country and within a conference that is loaded with middle and long-distance talent.

All the while, the sophomore set a high bar in his academic work and set the foundation for success both in the classroom and on the track. In recognition of those efforts, Nash was selected by athletic directors as the 2021-22 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

“I am super stoked to receive an award that considered so many impressive student-athletes in such a great conference,” Nash said. “I hope to continue to live up to the expectation both academically and athletically for the next couple of years.”

The Scholar-Athlete of the Year award recognizes a student-athlete who has achieved a high level of success both on the field and in the classroom. The award is nominated by and voted upon by the GNAC’s athletic directors. Nash was one of two male nominees for the award with a perfect 4.00 GPA as a finance major.

After placing second in the 5,000 meters at the GNAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships as a freshman, Nash turned things up a notch in his first GNAC cross country season. He proceeded to win his first three collegiate races, including a 15-second victory at the Chambers Bay Collegiate Open on October 2. At the GNAC Championships, Nash dueled with Simon Fraser’s Aaron Ahl for the full 8,000 meters. While Nash finished second by one second in a time of 24:22.9, both runners were 10 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

Nash went on to place fifth at the NCAA West Regional Championships, covering the 10,000-meter course in 30:56.3 to earn All-West Region honors. He earned the first of his two All-American trophies at the Division II Cross Country Championships, placing 27th in a time of 31:10.1. Nash was one of five freshmen to finish in the top 30.

During the indoor season, Nash placed second in both the 3,000 and 5,000 meters at the GNAC Indoor Championships. Like the cross country season, both second-place finishes came in close duals with Nash finishing less than a second behind Ahl in the 3,000 meters and was just a second behind Western Washington’s Kevin McDermott in the 5,000 meters.

An All-West Region selection and an NCAA Championships provisional qualifier in both events, his season-best of 14:29.18 in the 5,000 meters ranks No. 9 on the GNAC all-time list.

Come the outdoor season, it was finally Nash’s time to pick up one of those coveted GNAC gold medals. He outdueled Northwest Nazarene’s Tyler Shea to win the 10,000 meters at the GNAC Outdoor Championships in a time of 31:11.39. The next day, he outdueled his Nighthawks’ foe again to win the 5,000 meters in a time of 14:32. Nash closed the season with an eighth-place finish in the 5,000 meters at the Division II Outdoor Championships, picking up his second All-America trophy with a time of 14:05.62.

Nash’s season-best time of 13:53.33 in the 5,000 meters ranks No. 2 on the GNAC all-time list and was the ninth-fastest in Division II this season. His season-best of 29:24.4 in the 10,000 meters ranks No. 4 on the GNAC all-time list and was No. 18 in Division II this season.

“Cole had a stellar year. He earned his first two All-American honors and established himself as the best winner in the conference,” said Alaska Anchorage head cross country/track and field coach Ryan McWilliams. “But his academic accomplishments overshadow his great athletic accomplishments. The ultimate goal for all student-athletes is to grow as individuals, educate themselves and earn their degrees. Cole is going above and beyond in the classroom as well as on the course and track. He is a student-athlete all should emulate themselves after.”

Other nominees for the GNAC Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award included Alaska cross country senior Zephan Ozturgut, Central Washington baseball sophomore Austin Ohland, Montana State Billings soccer senior Luca Battistotti, Northwest Nazarene soccer senior Lorenzo Valentini, Seattle Pacific soccer senior Travis Swallow, Simon Fraser golf senior Ryan Stolys, Western Oregon baseball senior Mike Peterson and Western Washington soccer senior Gus Diehl.