Drury track and field coach Jim Buffoni is always encouraging his athletes to do a little bit extra.
Nik Andrews is making him looking pretty good.
Andrews graduated from Drury in 2010 and is now running track at Providence College.
"He always says training and hard work is what makes you," Andrews said. "If you put in the effort, your time should go down. That's kind of the biggest thing I took away from coach Buff."
The two exchange text messages after all of Andrews' meets. This weekend he is running as part of the 4x400 meter relay team for Providence at the Big East Championships in New Jersey. His relay team is scheduled to run the event at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
He missed qualifying as an individual after battling health issues this winter. He missed the entire indoor track season, but that isn't changing his attitude heading into the weekend.
"I'm just going to take this weekend and learn from the experience," Andrews said. "It was a tough year track-wise, but all I can do is put forward a good effort and start preparing for next season."
He's not the only former North County track and field athlete utilizing talents at the next level. Hoosac Valley's Liz Provost and Mount Greylock's Oona Wood are both freshman at Holy Cross this year. Holy Cross is competing in the Patriot League Championships this weekend.
It's been a learning experience for Andrews through his first three seasons at Providence.
In addition to running as part of the relay team, he traditionally competes in the 400. He's learned that track and running is a year-round sport.
Andrews was a three-sport athlete at Drury. He played soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and ran track in the spring. Before the track season began, he usually did very little running. That has changed considerably since he started at Providence.
"The main thing I noticed right off the bat was it was year-round," he said. "I started lifting as part of my training. It took about a good year before it finally clicked in and my body really accepted the role it had to go through.
"I never touched the weights in high school. I kind of felt like I got hit by a truck after the first few work outs. But it's really helped me a lot going forward."
That seems to be the trend for most track athletes that head to college to run. Mount Greylock girls' coach Brian Gill has sent several runners to colleges to run. He makes a point to ask them all when they return what the difference is. The most common answer is generally weight lifting.
When his season and academic year come to end, Andrews plans on spending time at his alma mater. That's not abnormal for him or any other Drury track graduate. Buffoni says several of his former runners come back and help work with the team during their breaks.
"He was just a real strong kid and always worked hard, he's still working hard," Buffoni said. "He works out with us on his breaks and is around quite a bit to help the kids out. It's great to have the younger kids get to work with runners like that and spend time with them.
"I'm pretty fortunate a lot of my former runners comeback and give back to the team."