McKiver tracks success at Virginia Tech

Apr. 06, 2013 @ 12:38 AM

Over the years, Nora McKiver has focused on particular targets. Whether it’s beating a particular runner or a winning an event, she is fueled by her competitive nature.

After winning five individual state championships, McKiver, a standout hurdler at T.W. Andrews, now has the goal of beating one more rival — her coach, Nick Michael, who won six state titles when he was in school.

“I think now I’m her biggest competition,” says Michael with a laugh. “It’s no longer the girl from Wakefield or the girl from Central — now it’s her coach.”

When she began running at Andrews as a freshman, though, McKiver didn’t have any experience in hurdles. But, through four years of dedication and intense training, she has earned a scholarship to run at NCAA Division I Virginia Tech.

“It feels great,” says McKiver, the daughter of Abraham and Vickie. “I’m kind of shocked that I caught it that quick in high school. So, I’m very thankful for that. It just feels so exciting.”

The switch to the hurdles as a freshman was not particularly easy, even for a talented runner like McKiver. Michael wanted her to try it, but she didn’t really know how it would go. But she kept with it and continued to work.

“I was thinking: ‘This man’s crazy,’” she recalls with a laugh. “I was really scared at first. I was like: ‘I’m not about to run these hurdles. I’m going to fall.’ But I gave him a chance, and I ended up liking it.”

Through her sophomore year, she began to see progress, as she focused hard on her technique — things like improving her starts, building speed and making sure her form was correct. The changes took time to incorporate, but she steadily built on them.

The work paid off, as she twice won state titles in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles in the outdoor season during her sophomore and junior years and one the 55 hurdles in the indoor season during her senior year.

“She was my program,” Michael says. “Her enthusiasm, her ability to perform, her leadership. And I think her leadership is what really did it for me. Even at such a young age, Nora showed leadership skills, even when, at times, her coach was slacking.

“Believe it or not, her words really helped. There were times I even thought about not continuing to coach, but Nora was really my push to want to continue with it.”

Even when things were difficult and giving up seemed easy, McKiver, who began runner when she was 9, following in the footsteps of her sister, continued to work through it, driven by her competitiveness and will to be successful.

“It was God mostly,” she says, “and my family kept pushing me, saying, ‘Keep going. Don’t give up.’ And my coach, he kept pushing and checking on me — everything. They inspired me to keep going.”

So, when it came time to weigh her options, which mainly included Virginia Tech and Michigan State, she says the Blacksburg campus and the Hokies track program — everything together — felt like home.

And now she will have the opportunity to compete with even more of the best at the next level.

“I really love track,” says McKiver, who wants to study pre-med and eventually go into gynecology. “I fell in love with it. I’ve been doing this all my life. If I have the heart for it, then I’m going to keep doing it.”