It was an inauspicious beginning for one of the most decorated athletes in Tech cross country and track history. Nahom Solomon originally attended track conditioning meetings in high school after being tricked by a friend into thinking that the meetings were for soccer conditioning instead. “It was about two weeks before I realized that everyone there was for track!” he said with a laugh.
A few years and many miles later, Solomon established a legacy as one of the most decorated cross country and track athletes in Tech history. Solomon led the Jackets in every single cross country meet of the past two years while consistently posting some of the best times in the ACC. In his last year of NCAA eligibility for cross country, Solomon qualified for the NCAA national meet and finished No. 22 overall, the best ever finish by a Tech athlete.
Solomon has also found success in track, with numerous high-level finishes in indoor/outdoor track including a No. 3 place in the 5000m at the Vanderbilt invitational last year.
To keep in shape to compete at such a high level of competition while attending one of the toughest schools in the South requires a rigorous schedule. Solomon’s schedule each day includes two long-distance runs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with classes and workouts in between. Solomon says, “As soon as you’re out of practice, you’re back on the normal student grind.” It is a delicate balance, but Solomon has excelled just as much in the classroom as he has on the racepaths — a high school salutatorian, Solomon picked up All-ACC Academic honors for the 2015 season and will graduate later this year with a degree in computer engineering.
Whether he is slogging through a tough load of Tech’s classes or pushing through exhaustion during the last mile of a race, Solomon knows how to stay grounded and motivated. In long-distance running, perhaps the most common obstacle faced by runners is hitting “the wall” — suddenly feeling tired and fatigued partway through the race. Solomon described how he gets over it: “It’s the little things that you tell yourself when you hit the wall [that] allows you to push past that point.” Solomon described hitting a wall in a race early in his career. He felt fatigued and was struggling to keep up with the pack before a teammate of Solomon “yelled out, ‘Two quick steps!’ I remembered; that’s what we used to always tell each other whenever we felt like we were getting out… of a race, so I just did the two quick steps and I’m back in the race. That’s a huge confidence booster right there.”
It has been one long race for Solomon, but he is showing no signs of slowing down. For some athletes, the arrival of their graduation cap and gown marks the end of their athletic career. Solomon looks ahead.
“After this indoor/outdoor [season] and graduating from undergrad, I’ll be back again for my masters to finish out my final indoor season here in the White and Gold,” he said. “After that? I haven’t really thought too much … 2019 is the Outdoor World Championships, so I’d like to see if I have a chance at qualifying for that.”
In retrospect, it is funny to think that Solomon’s career at Tech might not have even taken off had it not been for the persistence of Tech cross country Head Coach Alan Drosky. “I didn’t think I was good enough to run in college!” said Solomon. But, Solomon says, “the fact that Coach Drosky showed any kind of interest in me … really drove [the prospect of attending Tech] home.” He agreed with a smile that he proved himself wrong in the best way possible.