Spain Park’s Nixon takes 800-meter title

Daniel Nixon, a junior from Spain Park, won the 800-meter run at the 7A state track and field championships with a time of 1:54.49. (Contributed)

Daniel Nixon, a junior from Spain Park, won the 800-meter run at the 7A state track and field championships with a time of 1:54.49. (Contributed)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

In 2014, Daniel Nixon made it to the state meet in the 800-meter dash as a sophomore, and was seeded fourth. For such a young athlete to be that competitive is impressive in its own right, but Nixon wasn’t interested in just showing up, he wanted to compete.

When it came race time, however, the end result was not what Nixon had hoped for. The humidity and the heat rolling off the scorching Gulf Shores track was not what Nixon was used to, and he never found his rhythm as he ended up finishing last in the state meet.

2015 was just slightly different.

As a junior, Nixon came back strong. A year-round athlete before his junior season, Nixon stopped playing football and basketball to focus on track, because, as he said, “That’s what I know I want to do going into the future.”

Throughout the course of the 2015 track season, he was consistently at or close to the top of the 800-meter field at every meet.

At the state meet, Nixon went low. He was seeded third overall, with a time of 1:57.01, but blew that time out of the water at the same venue where he had struggled so mightily a year ago. He ran a 1:54.49, beating second place Drew Williams of Mountain Brook by almost two seconds.

For people unfamiliar with track, that’s quick. Very quick. Out of all seven 800-meter state winners, from classes one through seven, Nixon’s time was the fastest by over three seconds.

“I came in to this season with a whole different mentality,” Nixon said. “I knew going into state I would win it (the 800), because I had ran the 16 (1,600-meter run) earlier that week and the 4×8 and we didn’t place as well as we should have. I wasn’t going to leave Gulf Shores empty-handed. I’ve just been training hard, non-stop. That’s what I wanted.”

Nixon is polished for a junior in high school, with impeccable manners and obvious wisdom that extends beyond what his tender years should allow. He is articulate, yet quiet, and talks about his overflowing talent in a matter-of-fact tone, not bragging, just stating facts.

He is a student of the sport as well. He follows professional running closely, learning what he can from those older than himself. Moving into his senior year, he sees no reason why he can’t repeat as state champion.