Q&A with Nashua North runner Rory Curran

NASHUA – If an identity crisis once existed in the halls at Nashua North, this junior sensation obliterated it on Sunday afternoon at Dartmouth.

Titans distance runner Joseph Curran, aka Rory Curran, decided to eliminate the confusion once and for all.

If you see him from now on, just call Curran “champ,” as in state champion. Boom.

“I’m so glad to finally get a title,” said Curran, who has chosen to go by his middle name of Rory. “I always feel like I’ve been pretty close, just not there.”

Curran got there with authority at the Division I State Championships, crushing his nearest competitor in the 3000 meters by almost six full seconds.

The effort, and the 10 huge points, helped inspire North to a thrilling runner-up finish in the team chase.

“He was a monster all day and really set the tone with that gigantic win,” said North coach Art Kobs. “He is special, and his upside is huge.”

Curran took a minute from his busy schedule of school, work and training to share some thoughts on running, walking, family and friends.

Oh yeah, and also what it’s like to be able to call himself a champion:

OK, Rory, why Rory? Is this some kind of political statement against Josephs or something?

“Sometimes, it gets confusing, but Rory, that’s my middle name,” he said. “I guess I prefer Rory. My parents started calling me that when I was little, and it just stuck.”

So no statement?

“No, I’m not really political. I feel like I should be into it, but it’s just too dramatic. Politics just are not important right now.”

OK, so one thing you are into is running. How did you get here?

“I started running in third grade for our elementary school, and by fifth grade I joined the Gate City Striders running club.”

So you were hooked early?

“Yeah, but I quit running in seventh grade.”

So you’re telling me all this almost didn’t happen?

“I went to play soccer instead and had a good time with that. All my friends did it, but it wasn’t my passion. I had to pick one or the other.”

Did anyone push you back to running?

“Most of my life I’ve been a runner, and my older brother, Liam (now 23), ran for Nashua North. I wanted to be like my big brother. He definitely helped me a lot. Even now, he’s very encouraging. I couldn’t thank him enough.”

At North, you ran (Do you get it? Ran!) into a couple of other pretty solid role models, too, right?

Yes, (2018 grads) Max (Ireland) and David (Vorbach). It was a lot of fun to run with them. I grew a great friendship with both of them. I still talk to them today. There’s no way I would be as committed to running as I am now if it wasn’t for them.”

So Max is running at UNH, and David is running at Columbia. What kind of influence did they have on you?

“They were definitely good teammates. I owe a lot to them. It inspires me to be a good teammate, seeing the impact they had on me. It makes me want to inspire our younger kids.”

Sunday was a big day in your life. Did you get to share it at all?

“My parents were up there with me. And a lot of friends and family were watching on the live stream. I have a lot of family in Maryland. They were watching me there. It was a lot more special than I thought it was, a moment I’ll never forget.”

As great as the 3000 was, you came back to grab six more huge points for the team with a third in the 1500. I have to be honest, with 400 meters to go, you looked cooked, dropping back to sixth. How did you turn things around and finish so strong?

“The last lap of the 1500, I thought about the team, and how much it meant. I just told myself, ‘Do it for the team,’ and I tried to snag as many people as I could.”

Had to be a tough race to run. You had already won the 3000. And Exeter’s Jacob Winslow was way ahead of the pack (breaking four minutes). How did you keep it together?

“I wasn’t so much discouraged. I knew it would be kind of tough to beat him. It was unrealistic for me to think I’d beat him after I ran the 3K and he didn’t.”

Runners are so driven. That will to be the best often translates in school. Talking about the books, how are you hitting them?

“I’m not as incredible a student as I should be, but I’d like to think I’m above average. It’s kind of stressful thinking about the future right now. It comes at you pretty fast.”

Do you have any favorite classes?

“I enjoy art classes, they’re peaceful. I used to be really into drawing. I just slowly stopped doing it. I went to a few art camps years ago. It was a good experience. Maybe someday I’ll get back into it.”

How about away from school and away from running?

“I enjoy time with my friends. I enjoy hiking a lot. I like hiking in New Hampshire. Not many people see all the beautiful mountains. They’re there and they’re not very far. I like Mount Lafayette the best. The view from there is incredible. And, of course, Mount Washington. I have a lot of friends who enjoy hiking. It’s a lot of fun.”

Any other sports?

“Until this year, I dove for Nashua North, but the practices are late at night. It was hard to jump in the pool at 9 o’clock and then go to school the next day.”

How about a part-time job?

“I’m a life guard at the Merrimack YMCA.”

Save anyone yet?

“No, and hopefully I won’t ever have to, but I’m there if they need it. It gets boring some times, but it’s a nice first job.”

All right, champ. You’ve been great, but one final tough one. What’s the Titan distance running secret? Why have you guys been so good for so long?

“(Coach) Arthur Kobs really knows what he’s doing. He turns out incredible distance runners. It’s an honor to be a part of this dynasty.”