There are still a few family members, and a teacher here and there, who call North Reading senior Nicole Roberts by her given name.
But she prefers “Nicky,” which is what all her friends call her.
And, based on her impressive career for the Hornets, she deserves to be called whatever she wants.
Roberts, who finished second in the Cape Ann League meet the weekend before last, has quietly become the top distance runners in school history and, somewhat unnoticed, one of the top small school girl runners in the state.
In addition to owning North Reading’s course record (16:49 for 2.75 miles) and placing first in nine of 10 dual meets this year, she finished third at the Division 3 meet as a junior and holds several school records in track.
Among the track records, she has run a 5:15 in the mile, a 2:20 for 800 meters and an 11:35 for the 2-mile, an event she’s only tried a handful of times.
“And I’m going to try the 1,000 (meters) this winter,” said Roberts. “I’m excited by that, to see how well I can do.”
There is no question that Roberts likes to compete, and to test herself, but that’s not why she switched from soccer after her freshman year and it hardly explains her love of cross country.
“I didn’t like the environment of soccer,” she said. “I wanted a change. I didn’t know if I’d be a good runner, but I heard it (cross country) was a great sport to get into.”
In fact, cross country was every bit as good as she had heard and maybe more so.
“I love the whole woodsy aspect of it, running outside on trails, and I like how everyone’s not watching you the whole race — you’re out there on your own,” she said.