For The Tribune
Nikolai Haak enjoys distance running so much that he knew he didn’t want his final race at Trinity Lutheran this spring to be the final time he ran in a competition.
On Thursday, Haak signed a letter of intent to run cross-country along with track and field at Concordia University Wisconsin, located in Mequon, Wisconsin.
He said he chose Concordia for its running program as well as its business department.
“I like their business program,” he said. “They have a really good business program. I’m looking forward to going into sports marketing and business and my future hope is to become a sports agent.
“They have a sports marketing business degree that you can get whereas a lot of other places only have sports management or sports business, but they specifically have what I want. It’s a good program and their placement rates are pretty good.”
The head track and cross-country coach at Concordia is Russell DeLap.
Concordia is an NCAA Division III school, and is a member of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference
“The coach up there is a USA Track and Field Level 2 coach,” Haak said. “He is very good. He literally may only miss three days out of the whole year that he does not work. He runs every single day.
Chris Crenshaw, cross-country and head track coach at Trinity, said he feels Haak can definitely contribute at Concordia.
“It’s going to be a little more work, but with the work he does have that potential for that improvement,” Crenshaw said. “If he keeps his work ethic up I see great things for him.
“He’s been an intricate part of our program. The first year I started coaching track he was here, so to see him go is a little sentimental. He’s worked hard and shown leadership. The cross-country season ended a little abruptly (leg injury) for him. We need to do what we can to avoid that for track season.”
Crenshaw said, through his experience, Haak has come a long way in both sports.
“I’m proud of is accomplishments,” Crenshaw said. “He’s right there with Luke (Onken), and I hope to see him improve on that this year. It seemed Luke was ahead of him (in 2013) and then last year Nikolai improved quite a bit.”
Haak becomes the first athlete that Crenshaw has coached at Trinity that has gone on to compete in college.
“We’re happy to see him go on to the next level,” Crenshaw said. “We just want to keep him healthy, and if we can keep him healthy I see good things.”
The senior began his running career in the fall of his freshman year at Trinity.
“All four years I was running close to Luke,” Haak said. “My junior year was probably my top year. I beat Luke once. My senior year I got injured halfway through the cross-country season, so I was not able to compete the whole season. I did run in sectionals but I got a very bad time.”
He said his career-best was 17:35, and his favorite course is Brown County.
“It’s so fast,” Haak said of Brown County. “It’s flat and there were so many runners each time I ran there. The more runners you’re with, the more you’re competing, so the faster you’re running.”
Crenshaw said he feels Haak can be a key contributor to the Cougars this spring in the mile and the 4×400 and 4×800 relays.
Haak said the mile is his favorite event, with his best time of 4:49 being one second off the school record. He believes he can break 4:40 this spring.
“That would definitely get me past sectionals,” Haak said. “All the runners that are under five minutes are in a close pack together. We’re all really good runners so you’ve really got to keep up with that person in front of you.”
Haak reflected on his years of running and the improvements he has made.
“Experience has definitely helped me when we run against bigger and more competitive schools,” he said. “I know what I’m running against and I know I’m up there with those competitive runners, where my sophomore year I really wasn’t.
“Last year and this year I know I’m one of those top runners, and people are looking at me because they know I’m a good runner.”
Name: Nikolai Haak
Parents: Larry and Sally Haak
Sports: Cross-country, four years; track and field, four years
Athletics highlights: Most improved runner
Organizations: Student ambassador, choir, chess club, musical, band
Plans after high school: Attend Concordia University, Mequon, Wisconsin and run track and cross-country
Favorite food: Buffalo wings
Favorite TV show: “Duck Dynasty”
Favorite musician: Justin Beiber
Favorite movie: “The Equalizer”
Favorite team: Purdue Boilermakers
Q: What was it like attending TLHS?
A: “I definitely love the school and the kids here. I love how it’s a small school, so I know everybody. I’ve built relationships with other people here, and I definitely love the sports teams. To me it’s part of definitely surviving high school being in sports.
Q: Are you looking forward to going to college out of state?
A: “Going to college I’m going quite a ways away from Seymour, and most of my friends are staying in the state. With all the social media, and texting we’ll be able to stay in contact.”