Archbishop Ryan’s Nicole Davis continues to jump over hurdles

Engineering a great season: Nicole Davis is enjoying the best season of her career at Archbishop Ryan. PHOTO: NICOLE DAVIS

Nicole Davis always had the ability.

This year, she gained the confidence.

Davis, a senior runner at Archbishop Ryan, stepped up her routine during the offseason, and that is one of the reasons for her quicker times. But that’s not the only reason she’s one of the top runners in the Catholic League.

“Coach (Mike Leonard) told me that I was good enough to do better and he knew I would if I believed,” Davis said. “I was running OK before this year, but it’s so much better this year. Things are just going so much better all the way around.

“I was good, but I never reached my full potential. This year, I think I’m doing that. I trained differently and really took a different approach. It really did change everything.”

The work has been evident in all of her events.

Davis runs the 100-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles. She also competes on two relay squads. She also ran hurdles during the winter season, earning All-Catholic in the 60-meter hurdles. And during the fall, she ran cross country. While she enjoyed competing, it was all in preparation for the outdoor season.

“I’m not much of a distance runner, but I ran because it helps you,” Davis said. “During track season, I don’t do distance anymore.”

Hurdles are her speciality, which is something that she wouldn’t have believed when she first enrolled at Ryan.

“When I got there, I was told to try hurdles by Mr. Ulmer,” Davis said of former coach Ed Ulmer, who retired after last season. “I was surprised because I wasn’t super coordinated. But after I got over the shock of doing it, I started to like it. I’m very comfortable doing it now.”

If Ulmer put her on the right track, Leonard definitely got her momentum headed in the right direction.

This year, the first-year head coach and his senior star are completely on the same page and working great together.

“He’s worked really hard with me, he did last year, too, when he was a trainer and assistant,” Davis said of Leonard. “I think he’s helped me get the most out of my abilities. He’s one of the main reasons I’m accomplishing so much this year.”

The coach feels the same way.

“She’s been a phenomenal example of toughness and hard work for our team and is a model student in the classroom,” Leonard said.

On Monday, she ran 50.06 in the 300 hurdles to finish second behind Neumann-Goretti star Sydni Townsend.

As good as Davis has been on the track, she’s even better in the classroom.

She takes advanced-placement classes and is ranked in the top 10 percent of her senior class. She’s also a member of the National Honor Society and the History Honor Society.

Next year, she’ll attend Drexel University, where she’ll major in civil engineering.

“I want to work with building roads and bridges,” Davis said. “It’s something that’s always interested me, and I like engineering, I find it very interesting.”

She was able to get a sneak peek at her future when she joined the Future Engineers Club at Ryan.

“It’s a fun group, it’s a bunch of kids who enjoy math and want to learn about engineering,” Davis said. “They would bring speakers in who have experience in civil engineering, and they explain how they do things. I’m interested in that so I found it really interesting. I think it will help me a lot in college.”

Before she goes to college, Davis still has some goals she’d like to accomplish. Finishing her senior year on a strong note is one of them.

“This year, I came into the year and I wanted to improve my times and get in better shape,” Davis said. “I did that, and I really want to end the year on a good note. I’m proud of the work I put in and how much I improved, but I want to keep doing it and see how far I can take it. It’s my last year, I want it to be the best it can be.”