At the NCAA
Division III 10,000-meter final last Thursday the University of Chicago team
was chanting, "Where's Nick? Where's Nick?"
And the team from
Washington University wore white T-shirts, reading, WHERE'S NICK?
And people in the
stands were whispering to each other, "Hey, where's Nick?"
Well, where was
Nick End, a
22-year-old Carnegie Mellon senior, was sitting in his apartment, wishing he
were dead. After all, he had one of the nation's best 10,000-meter times this
year in Division III. He was last year's University Athletic Association
champion. He'd been running five miles every morning and 10 to 15 every night,
through three throat infections, a dozen injuries, snow, sleet and wind. One
day a dog bit him, and he ran nine more miles before he went to the emergency
So what the hell
was Nick doing sitting at home?
Thinking about a
tiny, slippery mouse and a dumb, stubborn elephant, that's what.
See, his track
coach accidentally clicked the wrong button with his mouse on the online entry
form and entered Nick in the 5,000-meter race for the NCAA nationals instead of
the 10,000. Only Nick didn't qualify in the 5,000.
The coach, Dario
Donatelli, didn't realize his mistake until the next morning. But the field was
still marked "unofficial" on the website. No problem. He got hold of
the selection committee chairman, Josh Payne, and told him about the goof.
"Will you change it for me?"
This is where
you're going to want to start chewing on a table leg.