HELENA — Kudakwashe Nyahuma has quite the vision.
The Zimbabwean transplant already knows he’s fast. He’s been fast most of his life. He’s here at Carroll College to get faster and he believes training in this altitude and under the tutelage of coach Harry Clark could help him do just that.
This indoor track season is his first at Carroll, but the junior computer science major blazed on the track for Augusta University, a NCAA D-II school in Georgia, a season ago.
There he achieved his lifetime best in the 100-meter dash, running a time of 10.48. Though small in stature — Nyahuma stands at 5-7.5 and weighs in at 138 pounds — Nyahuma has life-sized goals.
“I’m aiming honestly trying to get to the Olympics in 2020 in Tokyo,” he said. “Hopefully working with coach Clark will help me to get as fast as possible to build up my speed and be able to qualify.”
Nyahuma credits Clark and the coaching staff at Carroll during his acclimation to Montana and a new community. Nyahuma grew up in Zimbabwe where snow is hardly a thought.
Now, Carroll’s track team will clear snow off the track to get workouts in several times per winter. Nyahuma had seen snow before when he visited family living in Canada, but living through months of frozen conditions and snowfall made for a new experience.
“You wake up and you wonder if I really need to go to practice today,” he said laughing.
Clark said the main thing with Nyahuma was introducing him to the rest of the track team and their family-like culture.
“First day he got here everybody treated him like a brother,” Clark said before adding, “he’s fast, man. He’s going to get after it pretty quick.”
Clark is easing Nyahuma into some of his longer, strenuous workouts. The coach said his new sprinter is doing well with the short stuff and performing well in practice sessions, but “overdoes it” at meets. Nyahuma expects to shave time off his personal record in the 100-meter, and develop a better overall race in the 200.
“He’s thinking too much,” Clark said.
While Nyahuma learns his rhythm on the track and eases into his training and adds more strength to his slight frame, the Olympics may not be farfetched.
Nyahuma was eager to join a track team like Carroll’s, especially considering the Saints’ rising stature in the NAIA track world. The Saints have steadily improved and qualified more athletes for nationals each season.
It was important to join a team focused on improvement for Nyahuma. It’s part of the reason he came to America at all.
Nyahuma ran at the World Junior Championships in Eugene, Oregon, — Tracktown, USA — in 2014. That experience helped him realize the potential of training in the states.
His coaches then planted the idea of training in higher altitudes in his head. When he had an opportunity to transfer to Carroll, it seemed like a way to make a fast kid faster.
If it’s not clear already, Nyahuma is passionate about running and serious about making a push for the Olympics in two years. Many of his peers doubted him in Zimbabwe, and he credits his parents for supporting his dream to run and pushing him to continue improving.
He feels he’s doing that at Carroll under Clark.
“He’s been one of the coaches that has been two steps ahead and always thinking about the athletes and the athlete’s health,” Nyahuma said. “There’s certain things he says to me and tells me not to do. He’s always two steps ahead of me."
Nyahuma and the majority of the Saints track team will be in Bozeman this weekend for the Bobcat Invitational. (Clark and the multi-event performers will be in Pocatello, Idaho, for the Mountain State Games.) There, he’ll look to further incorporate his learning during his short time in Helena.
“Hopefully I’m just trying to work as hard as I can,” Nyahuma said. “I thank coach Clark for giving me the opportunity to run for Carroll College.”