For the first time in program history, the Charlotte 49ers' cross country team has been selected for the NCAA XC Championships. The team will compete on March 15 in Stillwater, Okla.
At the helm of this team is Nick Scudder, who, at a young point in his college career, is making a big name for himself both with the cross country team but the track & field team as well.
Scudder has been selected to compete individually at the NCAA XC Championship, while the men's team has also been selected, which will be their first time competing in program history.
"I'm excited, I haven't run a 10K in a while; it's a really long race," said Scudder. "We're big here on longer races here at Charlotte, so I think as a team we're going to do really well, so I'm excited.
When Scudder takes the course, long days of work will be on showcase.
"It just started something fun after freshman year of high school. And once I started running faster, it became more fun," said Scudder.
In high school, Scudder gained major recognition, especially for his performance in the 3200m races. In 2019 Nick got 1st in six of the nine 3200m meets he participated in. He got first in some of the ones, including the 'Cap 7 Conference Championship' and the "NCHSAA 4A East Regional". Nick placed second in the "NCHSAA 4A State Championship" 3200m and went on to take silver for cross country in this competition. Scudder recorded the fastest time in North Carolina for cross country and the outdoor 3200m during his senior season.
Scudder was already making a mark in national cross country with all these accolades and caught Charlotte Cross Country head coach Joseph Lynn's attention.
"I liked that he was a front runner. I think that is something you can't really coach, it's an instinct that you have, or you don't have," said Scudder. "I really really liked that with him out of high school. He was always really aggressive."
Due to COVID-19 canceling outdoor track competitions during Nick's freshman year at Charlotte, but when it came to indoor meets. Scudder did not let down in his first year with the cross country team, quickly getting Lynn's attention in his debut.
"I knew personally early on in his career with us that we had something special," said head coach cross country coach Joseph Lynn.
Scudder ran in six cross country races in his freshman year. He finished 13th at the Conference Championships with an 8K time of 24:39.9, which is behind his personal record he set just before at the "UAB Blazer Invitational" with a time of 24:00.0. He also competed in three meets in the mile, 1000m, 3000m and 5000m events. He placed fifth In the 3000m at the "JDL Camel City Invitation" he placed 5th with a personal record time of 8:17.21. This ranked third in school indoor history at the time. In the conference championship, he took home eight in the 5000m with 14:27.36, which ranked fifth in school history. He made second-team All-Conference.
Scudder has thrived under Lynn's mentorship and the rest of the team and says Lynn is a big part of his success.
"I love it, it's different than high school, but that's not a bad thing. I like how he leaves a lot of the training to us, which has bitten me in the butt before, put me in a hole working too hard sometimes, but he's pretty hands-off and sees our potential and lets us push ourselves," said Scudder.
Scudder has improved this year, breaking school records left and right. In his first meet of the year was at the VMI Winter Relays, wherein the mile event he claimed fourth with a PR of 4:10.68. At the time, this ranked sixth in Charlotte's indoor history.
At the Brant Tolsma Invitational, Scudder ran 8:02.60 in the 3000m, which set his personal best and broke the school record. Just two weeks later, Scudder and the rest of the Niner Track and Field team participated in the Conference USA Championship. He won his second individual conference title in the men's 3000m with a time of 8:14.02. He broke the 5000m school record by 22 seconds in the Championship with a time of 13:47.51. This time also broke the C-USA meet record by almost 20 seconds. Shudder finished with two golds and totaled 20 points which gave him a Co-High Scorer of the Meet. This performance helped Charlotte earn their second straight men's team indoor conference title. Scudder was named USTFCCCA National Athlete of the Week, a first for the school.
"It makes me proud, it makes me happy that I run here cause Lynn took a chance on me," said Scudder on succeeded so young. "I just somehow kept improving a good amount every year, and it's a good feeling."
Lynn is excited about the future for his young runner.
"With him only being a sophomore, there's still a lot of ceiling there to raise to yet," said Lynn. "We haven't even touched on a lot of things yet with his training and his progress. I think there's definitely more to come. Whether it's a PR race or not, we always know when he crosses the finish line that he gave the most that he could. I think that's the thing I'm most proud of."
Scudder has made huge strides early in Charlotte's little time and has much potential in his years to come.
"I'm thankful to be able to run in a Charlotte uniform. I'm thankful the coach allowed me to run here, great teammates and a great school," said Scudder.