Alumni race through campus has special meaning for one former runner

Britney Dixon, Managing Editor

Cheers and applause filled the architecture field as current and retired cross country athletes met alumnus Nicholas Michienzi to walk the last quarter-mile of Saturday’s five-kilometer race.

This became a tradition with the Hawks that Head Coach Sean Livingston initiated a few years after finding out that Michienzi had to officially put his racing days behind him.

For most runners, worn down hips or knees force them to retire. Michienzi’s knee wasn’t just wearing down.

It had a tumor.

“I’m really not supposed to be working, but as long as I’m okay with it, they said I’ll be fine,” Michienzi said.

Thirty two-year-old Michienzi was a construction management graduate of the Class of 2008 and captain of the 2007 Cross Country team. Now, he works as vice president for his family business, Michienzi Construction and Design in Woburn, Mass., as well as teaching construction management at Southern New Hampshire University.

Michienzi broke his leg in 2011 and had three surgeries which he thought would allow him to continue running. Soon, just a broken leg turned into a cell tumor in his knee that ended his racing career for good.

The race, soon to be named after Michienzi, took place on alumni weekend. Several athletics teams, students, alumni and family members participated in the race. Over 30 of the participants were cross country alumni, including the first woman to cross the finish line.

Livingston enjoys taking time out of the season for the race. According to him, it’s good for his athletes.

“I feel like it’s just as hectic as the [Commonwealth Coast Conference] track meet,” Livingston said. “But it gives the runners a break before their conference meet.”

Each year since Michienzi was diagnosed, he has continued to take part in the race — now walking instead of running — with fellow Hawks supporting him along the way.

“It’s touching that they walk with me every year,” Michienzi said. “And to know the race is being named after me is just something I’m thankful for.”