Parker Nold always followed distance running, from a close distance.
He started watching his older brother, Trevor, when Parker was in the first or second grade. Trevor’s sophomore year was the year Oswego East coach James Milner came aboard as head cross country coach. Parker was in fifth grade.
“I kept watching my brother run; he influenced me to go into it,” Nold said. “I admired my brother. I wanted to be like him. To be faster than him.”
He indeed realized those goals. And, in doing so, Parker Nold became the fastest runner Oswego East cross country has ever had.
The Wolves’ senior and Bradley commit followed up a breakthrough junior season with a consistently excellent fall of 2022. Nold went under 15 minutes over 3 miles in six consecutive races, the last two second-place finishes at the regional and sectional meets. And Nold capped it off with a second consecutive top 10 finish at state, finishing eighth in Class 3A in 15:06.2 on a muddy Detweiller Park course.
Nold is the Record Newspapers boys cross country Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year.
“He did a great job last year, and he took a step up this year,” Milner said. “He does everything you ask of as a coach. It was great to take that success last year and this year have a little more success. You look at some of his times and results this year, it was unbelievable.”
Nold’s improvement at state, from 10th to eighth, appears modest at first glance. But there was a noticeable difference. Whereas last season there was a gap between Nold and the first group, this season he was right there to the end, in fourth place at the 2-mile mark.
“I felt good about it, I was really close,” Nold said. “I was getting close to first place. I just couldn’t hold on. The course was pretty bad that day. I was happy to get top 10.”
Nold’s season-best time of 14:42.2 came at the Richard Spring Invitational, also in Peoria, a race he took second in. He was fourth at the Palatine Meet of Champions, won the Pat Savage Invitational at Niles and was fourth in conference, all under 15 minutes.
“I just kept working in practice, kept making goals for myself. I wanted to make sure I could stay under 15 minutes to get ready for the state series,” Nold said. “I was able to focus and get my head in the right space.”
He’s continued a legacy that started many years ago, when Nold’s brother ran for Milner at Oswego East.
“We’ve been fortunate to have some very good kids,” Milner said. “Parker’s older brother was one of the first athletes I coached, a pretty good runner. I’ve known Parker since he was about 7. You could really tell that he wanted to be a distance runner. He’s been able to see where the program was when I got here. He has had that to look up to and see what is possible and he has taken it to another level. He has set the bar higher for the next group, which is great for the program.”