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Out runner Nico Young sets college record in 5,000 meters

Young is the first college runner to run the race in under 13 minutes. He came out as gay in 2022.

2022 Division I Men’s and Women’s Cross Country Championship
Nico Young, shown in 2022, set a record in the men’s 5,000 meters.
Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Northern Arizona University runner Nico Young made history Friday night by becoming the collegiate men’s record holder in the 5,000 meters at the John Thomas Terrier Classic in Boston. And he did it in style.

Young’s time of 12:57.14 beat the old record by six seconds and he became the first college runner, indoor or outdoor, to run under 13 minutes in the 5,000 meters. “I knew I could break 13 on my best day, and it was a great day today,” Young told FloTrack.

Young, 21, came out as gay in a 2022 post on Instagram and has never regretted it.

“Anyone who tells you that being gay is a choice is wrong. I am living proof that it is not a choice, it is something I have always known and been aware of, but have kept silent out of fear of rejection,” Young said in his post.

“I have struggled to accept myself, but I am becoming more proud and happy with who I am. I have realized that the only reason I never liked this part of who I am was because of what society has told me, not because of how I actually feel. ...

“I want and hope to be a representative and advocate for others like me. I want anyone who is struggling with who they are to know that you are never alone, and that the people who truly matter to you will always be there to love and support you.”

What is also significant about Friday’s race (where he finished second to South African Olympian Adriaan Wildschutt, a professional runner) is that the time is under what is required to qualify for the Olympics, so Young has a shot to make the U.S. team in Paris this summer.

Young’s race on Friday also came at a time after he battled an injured knee, so running pain free was a huge plus.

“I was able to show myself that it doesn’t really matter how much I run, I can still run fast, so I’m happy about that,” Young said.

You can follow Nico Young on Instagram.