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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Seven questions with Nikky Sztachelski ’25, women’s track and field

Nikky Sztachelski ’25 finishes strong in an indoor race at Boston University.
Nikky Sztachelski ’25 finishes strong in an indoor race at Boston University.

Nikky Sztachelski ’25, from Weston, Conn., is in the midst the transition from winter to spring track. In this installment of seven questions, Sztachelski, a psychology major and film and media culture minor, talks about her pre-race snack, her favorite track memory and her hype song. 

Charlie Keohane: I’ll start with the question everyone asks: How did you get into running? 

Nikky Sztachelski: I was switching between soccer and swimming, and then I stopped swimming in seventh grade and after fall in high school, I decided I would stop soccer. Sports have always been a big part of my life, and I didn’t want to just abruptly stop in high school, so I decided to do winter track and field. In soccer, I was a forward, so running was a big part of my position, so I think that kind of translated with track. The transition between the two sports was pretty easy. 

CK: What’s your pre-race routine? 

NS: I would say I’m one of the people who kind of prefers to be in my own space pre-race. I like to warm up and put my headphones in. Honestly, I like to put my headphones in pretty early, like even at the start of the meet. If I’m watching other people, I’m just kind of in my own zone. So I would say music is big, and then I do warm-up and everything. Like five minutes before the race goes off, I have a pack of Welch’s gummies to just give me a boost of energy, and also, I feel like having that in my body after the race helps ease the nausea that I sometimes get.

CK: What are you looking forward to this season? 

NS: This spring season, honestly, I’m excited specifically for the 400 [meter] race. With the 400 indoor, you are running in the same lane as other people, and I feel like there are a lot of factors that go into it. You might not necessarily have as good of a race because it is not just on you, you have to pay attention to the people around you, not getting blocked in, stuff like that. With the 400 in outdoor, you’re in your lane the whole way, so I’m excited to have more control over that. 

CK: What’s something people don’t know about running track? 

NS: Looking at the sport as a spectator — I guess this goes for any sport — but for track, you don’t see how mentally straining it can be at times. I feel like with track especially, you can do everything you’re supposed to do, you can get all the sleep you need, have a good diet, recover properly, lift however many times you should, go to all the practices and everything, and you can still have a not great race. I feel like that impacts you a lot mentally, and it might not really show on the surface, but I feel like people who’ve never done track might not understand the mental side of it. 

Kind of going along with that, too, I think once you progress a lot in track and get to that top shape, it’s harder to get PRs [personal records], especially cutting off milliseconds, which I think is another thing that can kind of affect the mental aspect of it, which again can be hard [for spectators] to see if you’re putting on a composed front. 

CK: Do you have a favorite memory from your Middlebury career so far?

NS: Honestly, I think the San Diego [training trip]. I feel like when we’re on campus, we still spend time in our own groups like the throwers, sprinters, jumpers and distance, but once we get to San Diego, you go out for lunch with people from different event groups, and you are at the beach, surfing, whatever it is. You really get to know people that even if you’re physically close to them here, you have not really spoken to them or gotten to know them. So, I think that’s the best part of my track career and something that I look forward to every year. 

CK: What qualities do you like most about the team? 

NS: I would say just how understanding and supportive everyone on the women’s team is. I feel like we’ve all been in one another’s places, whether it’s a good place or a bad place at one point in time, and I think just being there for each other at practice or at competitions or even outside of that over the weekends. [I like] how supportive we are of one another and going both ways from upperclassmen to underclassmen but also underclassmen to upperclassmen just being there for one another.

CK: Last question: What is your hype song? 

NS: “Fight Night” by Migos. 

Editor’s Note: This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

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Charlie Keohane

Charlie Keohane ’24 (she/her) is an Editor at Large. She previously served as the SGA Correspondent and a Senior Writer.   

She is an environmental writing major and a psychology minor from Northern California. Outside of academics, Charlie is a Senior Admissions Fellow at the Middlebury Admissions Office. She also is involved with the women’s track team and hosts Witching Hour, a radio show on 91.1 WRMC. In Spring 2023, she studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, watching Greta Gerwig movies, polar plunging, sending snail mail, and FaceTiming her rescue dog, Poppy.