Lexington Catholic senior Nick Laureano relates his success in sports to his success in the classroom, figuring if he can handle an advanced placement class in a dead language, then he can handle the challenges of running.
"If you can teach yourself the discipline to study Latin, or something else you don't particularly care for, and achieve success there, then when you go to a sport, something you actually enjoy, then working hard to achieve success there is a lot easier," Laureano said.
Laureano has translated that approach into state titles in cross country and track (1,600 meters), to go along with academic excellence (3.9 GPA, 34 on the ACT).
On Thursday, he was named the winner of the 28th annual Tommy Bell Award. It goes to the outstanding student-athlete in Fayette County based on a vote of coaches conducted by the sponsoring Lexington Rotary Club.
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"It's amazing. It means coaches from all different sports picked a runner," Laureano said. "It's a real honor."
Lexington Catholic track and assistant cross country coach Mike Vanek wasn't surprised Laureano won it.
"Whenever he does something, in the classroom, on the track, on the cross country course, he does it the best he can," Vanek said. "He almost always has a plan. He prepares and he executes. He also learns from his mistakes and failures. He's an incredibly mature young man."
Knights cross country coach Tim Wiesenhahn called Laureano "the most meticulous runner I've coached. He takes all aspects of his running seriously — stretching, drills, intervals, racing, long runs. You name it, Nick has mastered it."
While Laureano simply endures some of the necessary training, he thoroughly enjoys going out on his own for a peaceful 8- or 10-mile run.
"People ask all the time, 'How do you do it?'
"I just like going out and not really thinking about anything but running, putting one foot in front of the other. I can't really explain it."
But then this is a guy who lists physics and calculus as his favorite subjects, so he never seems to take the easy route to success.
Laureano thinks he'll probably major in physics at Notre Dame, and he hopes medical school is in his future. He'll also run cross country and track for the Irish.
First, though, comes the regional track meet on Saturday. A six-time region champ, Laureano hopes to qualify for next week's state meet in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
"Our team has an outside shot at winning the (Class 2A) state title," he said. "It's going to take everybody's best performance.
"That'd be really cool, to go out as team champs. That'd be unbelievable."
That'd be like acing an AP Latin final.
Tommy Bell Award winners
2013Nick Laureano, Lex. Catholic
2012 Patrick Keller, Lex. Catholic
2011 Kate Stromberg, Henry Clay
2010 Brett Durbin, Lafayette
2009 Matt Zarth, Henry Clay
2008Nathan Novosel, Lex. Catholic
2007 Jay Embree, Tates Creek
2006 Justin Burke, Lex. Catholic
2005 Jessie Martin, Henry Clay
2004 Jessica Warren, Henry Clay
2003David Buchanan, Henry Clay
2002 Jenny Noort, Lex. Christian
2001Neeley Thomas, Paul Dunbar
2000 Bobby Haggard, Lafayette
1999 Whitney Criswell, Lafayette
1998 Hallison Putnam, Sayre
1997 Hallison Putnam, Sayre
1996 Andy Green, Lex. Christian
1995 Lee Greer, Tates Creek
1994 George Birk, Henry Clay
1993 Matt Meighan, Paul Dunbar
1992 Stephen Wang, Lafayette
1991 Darrin Horn, Tates Creek
1990 Nick Morrow, Henry Clay
1989Shelley Kincaid, Bryan Station
1988 Alan Wang, Lafayette
1987 Rick Holt, Henry Clay
1986 Patty Webb, Tates Creek