ENUMCLAW, Wash. - Nick Kahanic was a 13-time NAIA All-American during his days as a track and field athlete at Roberts Wesleyan College.
Five years later, he continues to build an impressive resume of a different sort.
Competing in the athletics competition at the Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games, the Falconer resident came away with the North American Amateur Championships, claiming first place in five of eight events to win going away.
Falconer resident Nick Kahanic displays his plaque for winning the North American Amateur Championships at the Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games.
"I don't know how to put it into perspective,'' Kahanic said via cell phone Sunday afternoon. "There were 13 guys out of the top 22 in North America and I either won or got second in the eight events. That's like the best-case scenario. If you told me this would happen, I would have said 'no.'''
Among his personal highlights was clearing 31 feet in the sheaf to set a new North American Championship field record. The sheaf is a 20-pound bundle of straw wrapped in burlap and tossed vertically with a pitchfork over a raised bar much like that used in the pole vault.
"As I was watching, I thought, 'Oh, my god, I'm ripping. I'm throwing so hard and fluid, this could work,''' said Kahanic, who entered the championships as the top-ranked overall amateur. "The sheaf isn't one of my weak events, but it isn't my best event by any means. When you beat the world record holder in an event when I expected to finish second or third (is really something).''
Scoring for the Scottish Highland Games is similar to cross country. For example, a first place earns a competitor one point, a second two points, etc. The person with the fewest points is the winner. In Saturday's championships, Kahanic finished with 11 points to win by eight.
"It was a pretty successful day as far as showing up and doing well,'' Kahanic said.
So successful that he's considering turning professional, but not before next season. Until then, Kahanic plans to compete in Amherst on Aug. 17, in Mayville Park on Aug. 24, at the National Championships in Pleasanton, Calif. Aug. 31-Sept. 1; and the World Championships in Shakopee, Minn., Sept. 7-8. He is also looking forward to a return to the Central Florida Highland Games in January.
"I can't even describe the amount of support from friends and family and even people I'm only acquaintances with,'' Kahanic said. "Just the amount of support from everyone back home has been insane.''
Kahanic said he will fly from Seattle this morning and will arrive in Buffalo at 4 p.m.
"This has been so much fun,'' he said. "I'm not usually much for traveling, (but) everybody has been so awesome. It's been an awesome stage to be on.''