CEDAR RAPIDS — Once upon a time, Nick Corbett appeared destined to be a back-of-the-pack distance runner.
“I ran the (3,200-meter run) once as a freshman,” he recalled with a little sheepishness. “I was the last finisher, in something like 14 minutes.
“The 1,600, I wasn’t so good there either.”
Corbett and the track coaches at Cedar Rapids Washington decided that a change of race might be a good change of pace.
“We could tell he had some fast-twitch muscles,” said Washington head coach Bill Pinckney. “Just to change things up, we started plugging him into some 400s.
“His times started to come down, and he started to really like it.”
He became a 55-second 400-meter runner by the end of his freshman year.
Now a senior, the possibility is there to become the school’s record-holder in both the 200- and 400-meter events.
Aaron Foreman (1998) holds the 400-meter record of 48.03. That appears the most likely mark for Corbett.
The 200 mark (21.40) is held by Milton Lanier (2001). Corbett won the MVC Indoor in that event, in 22.41. Yes, a second is quite a bit to shave, but considering that he was running two curves instead of one, it might not be out of reach.
“He was in Lane 1, and those corners are so tight,” Pinckney said. “I just wanted him to finish the race without getting hurt.”
Corbett became a long sprinter late in his freshman season. Then, between his sophomore and junior years, and became a serious lifter.
“It was the first time I ever lifted,” he said. “It didn’t seem at the time like it was making a difference, but then we got outside that spring.”
Corbett was a four-event placewinner at the state meet last year. He was the Class 4A runner-up in the 400 (49.46 seconds), third in the medley relay, fourth in the 800 relay and sixth in the 1,600 relay.
Though he’s the Warriors’ cornerstone, he’s only the second most well-known member of his family. His father is Cedar Rapids mayor Ron Corbett.
At 6-foot-1, Corbett is taller than most of his competitors.
“I think that’s an advantage,” he said. “When it comes to all-out speed, I’m not the fastest guy. But with my long legs, I think I’m able to carry it out and last a little longer.”
Corbett has committed to run next year at Iowa State University. Right now, he’s technically a walk-on, but hopes a strong senior season with translate into a partial scholarship.
“Scholarship, walk-on … hey, just the opportunity to run for a Division-I school will be a great experience,” he said.
“I’ll take it.”