SOUTH DAKOTA — When Nicole Davis isn’t working at the veterinary clinic in Spearfish, South Dakota, you’ll find her out and about on a run. Back in middle school, the freedom that running allowed her sparked what has been a long running career.
The Green River native runs cross country and is currently wrapping up her final season at Black Hills State University. For Davis, this season has proved to be her strongest as a Yellow Jacket. Work ethic and maintaining an optimistic outlook have been the foundation for both her collegiate career and life.
Davis ran for Green River High School, however, she claims that she didn’t take her running career too seriously early on in high school. Due to her hard work her junior year, she placed ninth at regionals which stamped her as an All-Conference runner. The achievement immediately changed her perspective concerning her athletic career.
“I feel that this was kind of a turning point in my running career that helped show me what hard work and determination could do for me,” Davis said. “After that, I took a much more serious approach with my running and applied myself at practice even more.”
After Davis’ state race during her junior year at GRHS, a graduate assistant coach from Black Hills State University approached the young runner. Thrilled by the interest, she put a lot of thought into her potential running career at BHSU. She asked herself several times if she would be able to compete at the collegiate level. Eventually the realization of her own potential came and the decision to run for BHSU was made.
“After some thought, I decided that if BHSU was looking at me, then clearly they thought that I would be able to perform to their expectations. When I came to this conclusion I became very excited. I am not the first person in my family to run at the collegiate level, but I am one of the few, which I think is quite an honor,” Davis said.
Learning and Remembering
While at BHSU, Davis has learned many life lessons which have boosted her athletic and academic performances as a Yellow Jacket. Nutrition, managing time and leadership have all been lessons absorbed during her college experience. Among the handful of lessons, the most important has been learning how to maintain an optimistic attitude.
“I think one of the most important things that I have learned is to maintain an optimistic attitude, to be confident in my ability, and to tell myself that nothing will be as hard as I think it will be. That last lesson has helped me tremendously with my running as well as in the classroom.”
Green River has always held a special place in Davis’ heart. Growing up and seeing the support of her community throughout her athletic career, Davis continually reminds herself that she represents Green River despite being far away in South Dakota.
“When I compete I want to make myself proud, my coaches proud, my teammates proud, and my family proud, but I also think about the community of Green River,” Davis said.
At the beginning of this season, things were not going Davis’ way. Through reevaluating and introspection, she bounced back and since then, has had quite an incredible season. Davis became the scoring runner for her team which eventually helped lead the Lady Yellow Jackets to their first DII National meet appearance in school history back in December.
In addition, Davis has found success on the track during the indoor season. Recently she set huge personal records in both the 5k and the 1500. As of this article, Davis’ PR for the 5k is 18:27.17 which she looks to improve upon by the end of the season.
For the remainder of the season, Davis looks to achieve a few different goals before graduating in May.
“…my big goal is to break 18 minutes in the 5k, and if I have a chance to run the 1500 once or twice more, to break 5 minutes in that event. It would be awesome to perform well at Conference and place in the top ten there as well,” Davis said.
As her 10-year running career comes to a close, Davis looks forward to trying out different venues such as triathlons and marathons. Wherever she may be, and whatever she may be doing, Davis is proof of a small town success story.
“… even though I am from little Green River, I am proof that someone from Green River can continue their athletic career and be successful.”