Squalicum boys' cross country runner Nick Gallaher's talent has never been questioned. He just hasn't always been able to display it.
Gallaher fell in love with running after family friend Corey Sorenson talked him into running cross country in seventh grade, he said. The Storm senior has thrived since, but a nagging hip injury has limited him from reaching his full potential.
"Nick has always been impressive when it comes to running," Squalicum cross country coach Katrina Henry said in a phone interview. "He works really hard and just always wants to do the best. He's had little injuries here and there that have prevented him in past seasons from getting to this level."
His last two races at the Northwest Conference Championships and the District 1/2 meet have shown just how effective Gallaher can be when 100 percent healthy.
He PRed with a 15 minute, 58.4-second run, placing third at the conference meet, and then backed that with a 16:05.09 at districts for another third-place finish in windy, rainy conditions.
Even this year Gallaher has overcame setbacks, but he's looking to cap his career with a strong finish during the Class 2A State Championship Meet at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
"I started off the season pretty sick," Gallaher said in a phone interview. "I wasn't doing workouts and only a few of the long runs. Then I started to get back into it and fought back to the position to where I want to be."
Gallaher has still competed at state his previous three years, winning the mental battle an injury can have on a runner. His times have dropped each season, too.
His 5,000-meter PR was 16:50.99 as a freshman, 16:17.31 as a sophomore and 16:12.55 his junior year.
What's carried Gallaher through tough times is his overwhelming passion for the sport. Henry said part of any strong runner's success in genetics and owning an unrivaled work ethic. She sees both traits in her senior runner.
"Running at a high level, you have to be committed to it," Henry said. "You have to make time to sleep and eat properly and do the exercises. You don't clock in at 3 and check out at 5. You have to make it a lifestyle, and that's something Chris (Fredlund) and Nick both do really well."
Gallaher has aspirations to run in college, and his dedication and talent suggests the goal is more than viable. His mental strength has also developed. It's a major reason he's stayed optimistic during frustrating periods.
"There were definitely times where I've come home after not being able to run for three days and gotten really upset," Gallaher said, "but I get through it. I know I'm going to bounce back, because I know it's not too serious."
This year, Henry said consistency has been Gallaher's top quality.
Fredlund, who's also a senior, has been instrumental during Gallaher's career. Gallaher said he and Fredlund have spent countless hours training in the offseason and have both dealt with injuries.
They've posted strong times all year and will spearhead the Storm's quest for a strong state placing.
Besides a state trophy, Gallaher is hoping to qualify for Nike Borderclash 15 - an elite race pitting the best prep runners from Washington and Oregon against each other. Gallaher needs to place fifth or better at state to qualify. Squalicum graduate Patrick Gibson won the boys' race last year.
"I'm mostly really excited to see all the hard work I put into the season, and I hope it goes well," said Gallaher of his final state meet.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.