Howe's Fabacher to run for Nicholls State
HOWE — As a runner, Jake Fabacher is always aware of the path in front of him.
The Bulldogs senior logged many early morning miles in the fall and laps around the track in the spring. There was even a point this spring where it seemed the road would take him away from competing at the college level, at least in the short term.
But instead, Fabacher found his way to where he signed his letter of intent to run cross-country and track for Nicholls State University.
He chose the Division I program in Thibodaux, Louisiana over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Southwestern University, Centenary and Lyon College.
“I put together a list of schools I was interested in running at. In September I reached out to Nicholls State, told them my times,” said Fabacher, who served as the team captain in cross-country for two years and for the basketball team as a senior. “I didn’t hear from them until June. The coach asked if I was still interested in them.
“I couldn’t believe it. You never hear about something like this. Everyone else I looked at didn’t pan out. It’s something I didn’t want to give up on.”
As late as May, weeks after his final race, Fabacher was planning on going to Grayson College — a school that doesn’t offer a cross-country or track program — and try walking on to the basketball team.
“I’m going to embrace this opportunity,” he said. “It’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to it.”
That final race in a Howe singlet left a bitter taste in his mouth — an ending that would have wounded any competitor.
Fabacher initially finished third in the Class 3A Region II 800 meter race to potentially earn the wild-card berth for the state meet.
His time of 2:05.42 gave him bronze behind Valley View’s Devin Ferris (2:03.21) and Mount Vernon’s Kale Roethle (2:05.07). But an entanglement down the final stretch between Valley View’s Obi Landeros and Hughes Springs’ Victor Wakefield forced the lead runners in the pack to adjust.
A couple of protests followed and the ultimate decision by the meet referee allowed Landeros and Wakefield to run again. It would be just the two of them instead of with a full 16-runner field, and their times — 2:03.26 and 2:04.49, respectively — ended up good for second and third, bumping Roethle out of a state berth and down to fourth and Fabacher from third to fifth.
Fabacher then finished 12th in the 1,600.
He had been the District 11-3A champion in the 800 and the 1,600 and he also won both of those races to reach the regional meet.
To kick off his senior year, Fabacher was the runner-up at the District 11-3A cross-country meet in 17:52.53 behind Whitewright’s Austin Stibbens to earn a spot at the 3A Region II meet. But he was unable to run in the regional meet because of contact tracing due to a positive COVID-19 test, even though Fabacher tested negative.
“It’s been a lot of lows. It was almost like the universe was trying to tell me to stop. There were some highs that were pretty good,” Fabacher said. “Everything happens for a reason. Every time I’ve had a setback, I just had to regroup.”
As a junior, Fabacher qualified for the regional cross-country meet and finished 59th with a time of 18:23.43. A majority of his track season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the UIL to shut down spring sports in the middle of March.
“When I got to high school, I didn’t want to play football and my mom said I had to do something,” Fabacher said. “My times weren’t that good but I felt it was something I had a knack for. This was something I wanted to see where it could go.”
Nicholls State University was 12th at the Southland Conference Cross-Country Championships during a spring season that was pushed from its normal fall spot on the calendar. In 2019, the Colonels placed 22nd at the NCAA South Central Regional meet.
The men’s track team was reinstated for the 2018-19 school year after it had been cut a little more than a decade prior. The program did not earn any points at either of the Southland Conference Indoor or Outdoor Championships this past year.
“They’re big on my potential,” Fabacher said. “They want to commit to me so they deserve everything I’ve got.”