Back Home At The Armory
The friendship between Brianna Nerud and Samantha Nadel goes all the way back to kindergarten, so it was no surprise to see them both at The Armory on Saturday to support the North Shore Invitational.
Nerud and Nadel are home on Long Island for their holiday break following their first seasons of college cross country. The former teammates at North Shore were one of the best one-two punches in high school track history and they have reunited over the break to do workouts and hang out. Through the fall, the two talked almost every day.
Now, they are in rival programs in the Big East. Nerud, who broke the U.S. high school record in the 3,000-meter steeplechase last summer, is at Syracuse.
Nadel, who won he Millrose Games high school mile last February and had prep bests of 4:25 (1,500) and 9:25 (3,000), is at Georgetown.
That meant a head-to-head matchup in the Big East Conference Cross Country Championships.
"It was definitely weird seeing her in a different uniform," Nerud said of the experience. "I kind of didn't know how to react to that." Nadel finished 16th in the race and helped the Hoyas to the conference title.
Nerud was 23rd overall, the second finisher for Syracuse.
Coming back to the Armory to see former teammates and coaches felt natural.
"It kind of feels like I never really left," Nerud said. "It's sort of like I'm here (with North Shore) but not racing."
Nadel lost part of her senior track season because of injury but is running well for Georgetown, which finished 12th at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
"I'm really happy at Georgetown," she said. "It's been a big transition from high school. Coach (Chris) Miltenberg left and that was really a shock at first, but I really like coach (Michael) Smith, who replaced him."
Miltenberg left Georgetown on the heels of the school's 2011 NCAA cross country title to take the coaching job at Stanford. Nerud said she was enjoying her time at Syracuse and looking forward to the start of indoor track season.
But until Jan. 7, she'll savor the time she has with Nadel.
"At one time we did want to go to the same place," Nerud said. "But (eventually) we had to find the right fits for ourselves."
A little more than a year ago, the duo was part of North Shore's record-breaking 4x1,500 relay, clocking 18:50.91 at the Jim Mitchell Invitational -- ripping 25 seconds off the old national mark.
On Saturday, they were prodigal daughters returned home.
* Jack Pfeifer contributed to this story