By Greg Bates
name: Isaac Nowak
parents: Tony and Michelle Nowak
Activities: Cross country and track
Nickname: Randy. One day Isaac wears some funny glasses to practice sophomore year and one of the juniors tells Isaac that the glasses are “like a guy named Randy would wear.”
Isaac competed for the Notre Dame Academy cross country team — where he held the school record in the 5K — for four years. After his first season in track and field was canceled due to COVID, Isaac will be in his third season in the spring. She has competed in a winter sport, cross country skiing, but she will be doing indoor track this year. The track will go through RunCCG, which is based in Texas. Through the club, Isaac will be given training and the company will help him register for races during the winter.
Why is running so big in your life?
“For me, it’s just a way to get out. That was one of the first reasons I did it. At first, I wanted to play football, but I was too small, so I thought I would do something. After I found success in it, it was really fun overall. It takes a lot of stress from just going to school every day. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t.”
How did you become so successful as a runner?
“I would say the biggest thing was probably just working hard. Going into freshman year, I wasn’t the best runner. I had a friend who was also a freshman and he almost beat me in the stone in high school. Push yourself in practice, but be smart about it. . Not going and running with the fastest group when it’s your first time running. Making sure you recover, eat well.”
If you would have told yourself in high school that as a senior you would be the best runner on a team that won a state cross country title, what would you have said?
“I don’t know how I can process it. I wasn’t a good runner in high school, I don’t think I was bad. But, like I said, I averaged like 10th in the mile in eighth grade, and I almost got cheated a few times. Then I played tackle football every year in high school, no cross country at all. I will never trust you.”
What’s it like to be the top runner on a state-winning team?
“I think being the first runner in the team is not as important to me as the team’s victory. Obviously, it means a lot that I was able to be at the front and be in the top five, which is my goal going into the season. I got fourth place, which honestly surprised me. Then just knowing that I can contribute a small amount of points for the team, that means a lot.”
Where does winning a state title rank among the greatest things that have ever happened in your life?
“I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say it was number one, so it’s definitely the greatest thing. I never believed I would win a state championship, and shared it with the people on my team, the guys who did and didn’t run, my coaches. The runners ahead of us, there were a bunch of them at the race. It’s crazy.”
What do you like to do besides running?
“Honestly, not much. I do a lot of training. If I’m not doing something, I might go do something with my friends, go hang out at their house or something. Otherwise, I like to watch football. I like to play other sports also.”
What is your favorite sport besides running to play?
“When I can ask my friends to do it, I like to play football. I lived in Spain for three years, grades three through five. We moved there for my father’s work, we live in Madrid. And I really had to embrace the culture there, especially the football thing. When I can get my friends to play football, I like to play football.”
What was it like living in Madrid for three years?
“It’s definitely an experience of a lifetime. It was a little strange, because we didn’t speak the language, but we sure understood it quickly. I wouldn’t say any of us are fluent, but most of us in my family can understand when people say things. It’s a bit of a pain, because we have to go all over the world.”
You obviously love to travel. Where is the most interesting place you have ever visited?
“Funnily enough, the most interesting place I’ve ever been is actually in the United States. I would say that the Grand Canyon is probably the most amazing place I have ever been.”
How many countries did you visit during your stay in Spain?
“Maybe around six or seven.”
What is important in your life right now?
“Honestly, running is very important, but I would say probably number one is my faith. I’m Catholic and my whole family is Catholic — my father’s family, my mother’s family, most people are Catholic. I would say it’s definitely a big part of my identity, because it just helps me get through things and it also helps me stay on track. It gave me a path to follow.”
What do you do on a typical Friday night during the school year?
“We have eight o’clock off, so I’ll go finish my training and then I’ll probably go home, do strength or something and after that, if I’m not staying at home, I’ll probably go to my house. friend’s house, maybe play a little poker. We will see how much money I robbed from him then.”
What do you like about school?
“People. I don’t want to be too obvious, but the cross country team and the people I met there, so just going through school with them.”
What is your favorite subject at school?
“I am a man of history. It depends on the time during class, because there are certain things I like about certain questions. I’m not a math guy, but now I’m taking AP statistics and I love the class. Then I didn’t like science most of the time, but now I take an environmental science class and I really like it.”
What do you want to accomplish the rest of your senior season?
“Athletically, so a little background. We lost to Shorewood last year in cross country and then we also lost to them in the 4×800 at state (track), we got second to them twice. So, we definitely want to beat them in the 4×800 track this year. It’s kind of unfinished business, we call it. Maybe just get a few more school records too.”
What are your plans for college next year?
“Not sure. I’ll run in college somewhere. I just don’t know where yet.”