Nolan Topper ’21 Athlete Profile

Hydrate several days before, read up on the course, study the competitors, and eat loads of pasta. This is the winning formula for star distance runner Nolan Topper ’21, who competes on both the Cross-Country and Track teams. This formula is a common one, spanning before his high school running career began,

“I started running with my middle school cross-country team pretty early, and later joined a club team. I think that it’s been about six or seven years.”

His continued passion and success is largely due to the team around him,

“I would say that joining a welcoming team with strong leadership created a passion for running in me. With the Bellarmine team around me, I felt engaged and willing to train hard.”

Being an upper-classmen, Nolan took on a new challenge this year,

Galen and Nolan.jpg
The Topper twins are pictures centered left. And far-right over to the left one.

“My main explicit leadership position is guiding a stretch group, which is a group of about 12 runners, including runners of all speeds and grades. With this group, we preview and debrief races, talk about running, and occasionally do workouts together. I’ll generally lead the group in these debriefs and activities. I would say I became a leader through our team’s leadership retreat at the end of the summer this year and last year. At the retreat, we discuss how to lead the stretch groups and what we want the season to look like. Our coach challenges us to care for the entire team through his team-minded philosophy.

And secondly, I would say that, as a member of the varsity team, I lead through role modeling. I think that when others see the varsity practicing, they are inspired.”

Nolan has an especially close connection with one of his teammates, they share a last name. Galen, his twin brother, pushes him every day,

“First, I always have someone there to train with. For example, Galen and I live fairly far from Los Gatos, where summer practice is located, so we run in nearby parks such as Huddart Park together. Running together is usually better than running solo. I would say that we both critique and push each other. If I start doing something in hopes of improving, he will generally follow. For example, if I start working out my obliques on Thursdays, I can challenge him to join me.”

Being training partners, the twins have excelled in both track and cross country. The sports are a little different, however, and Nolan shared the pros and cons of each:

For cross-country:

-The closer team environment, because it’s a team sport, while the track isn’t

-There is a variety of courses for Cross Country while in track we do not have this luxury

-Training at nearby parks, which we don’t do as much in track

-Longer distance races mean more playing time

-The food after meets provided by the parents, and banquets for start/end of season

-Length and hills can be a challenge or a benefit, whichever way you see it

For track:

-Tactics and race strategy become really important

-You can go really fast, a lot faster pace than cross country

-Meets have a little more to offer, including field, sprints, jumps

-And there are more races in a season”

Galen and Nolan 1.jpg

I like the meets in track more, but I prefer the practices in cross country. To me, track meets are fun to watch, and I get to stay on the side and see other events. I like racing in relays like the 4x400m or distance medley relay (1200m, 400m, 800m, 1600m) because they are always exciting. However, practices in cross country involve more teammates than in distance track, and we get to run at other places such as Rancho San Antonio.”

New challenges, new teammates, new season, Nolan plans to keep the same routine of self-improvement and success, and also continue the tradition of cross-country and track excellence Bellarmine has achieved for so long throughout the 2019-2020 seasons.

“Hydrate several days before, read up on the course, study the competitors, and eat loads of pasta…”