Elmira native and EDSS graduate Nathaniel Mechler is making his mark on the world of track and field.
In 2015, he accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Houston where he says he found a perfect balance between athletics and academics. Now, he is a part of the winning track and field Cougars.
At the NCAA Division 1 Indoor Track and Field conference championships in Birmingham, Alabama, Mechler was not only a part of the UH men’s champion team, he also took first place in the heptathlon event in his debut as a Cougar. As if that weren’t enough, he set a conference record in the 1,000-metre run.
For Mechler, the experience was unique. He didn’t have high expectations for himself at his first indoor competition, but he managed to win it all in the heptathlon.
“My goals for the indoor competition weren’t too high. Going in, I just wanted to do the best I could at the time. The first four events on the first day, they went pretty well. They were all consistent,” he said from Houston. “On day-two, I had the hurdles, the pole vault and the 1,000m. The hurdles were okay, the pole vault was okay, but going into the final event, I was down by just over 100 points. I had to beat the other guy by about eight seconds, and I did it. That was very exciting.”
He has competed plenty of times before, but this time around, Mechler says it was a bit of a change in atmosphere, especially being on a big team of like-minded athletes. The UH team won the whole conference, making it the third win in three years.
“It was very cool to be on that team. Everybody had the same goal. In Elmira, there are some great individual athletes, but being in a system now where there are so many great athletes, it is so fun to be in that atmosphere that I didn’t really experience before,” he shared. “It is very exciting. This was the third year in the row, so now we are on a streak, so that is pretty cool.”
It has been a year of changes for the decathlete, moving to a new country, starting with a new training regime and getting used to a new climate. However, he is taking it all in stride.
“There is a bit of transition. It is different being so far away from home, but I have enjoyed it a lot. Training is very different here. I have never really lifted weights before and that is something I am doing now,” he said. “The weather is also a lot different. We are outside pretty much all year round. So I really enjoy it.”
Up next for the EDSS graduate is even more competition. He starts training next week for the annual Texas Relays in Austin, Texas. The competition starts on Mar. 30, and acts as a qualifier for future events.