NICK COSTES

Nick Costes - the 2017 Mercer County Hall of Fame posthumous inductee - was believed to be the first Mercer County native to make the United States Olympic team.

He was one of the nation's premier long-distance runners and earned a spot on the U.S. marathon team that competed in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. He started his career at Farrell High School where he would run 5 miles each lunch hour. But because of the war, Farrell had no track team at the time.

He went on to Slippery Rock Teachers College, where he began running for the school in 1948. He won the Tri-State Small College cross country championship in 1949 and after being drafted into the service during the Korean War, he was the U.S. Army European 10K champion.

Nick had a chance to train with 1952 Olympic 1,500-meter champion Joey Barthel of Luxenbourg while working on his master's degree at Boston University. He developed his own training techniques, which he wrote about in 1972 in Runner's World Magazine. He won consecutive New England AAU 10K cross country titles from 1953-55 then in 1954 won the 25K national championship in Pittsburgh. He placed 4th (2nd American) in the Boston Marathon in 1956, which earned him a spot on the Olympic team. In the Olympics he finished 20th out of 200 competitors.

Nick went on to coach cross country and track at Troy State University in Alabama. He was inducted into the Road Runners Club of America Hall of Fame in 1986. He received the organization's Rod Steele Award in 1975 and served as an RCCA vice-president for three years.