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Boys Runner of the Year: North Hall's Witt Nix

POSTED: December 16, 2012 1:06 a.m.

Witt Nix wasn’t always in line to be the top cross country runner at one of the state’s best programs in North Hall.

He spent his entire freshman season on the junior varsity and only moved up to varsity at the tail end of his sophomore season, when he finally rose into the top seven for the region and state meets.

Even when he started his senior season as North Hall’s new No. 1 runner, he was quick to admit that he wasn’t at the same level as the past greats, like Brandon Lawson, Ty McCormack or the runner who got him to focus on the sport, Cody Barger.

There is one attribute that Trojans coach Drew Rogers attests nobody has been better at than Nix: How hard he works.

“He’s not maybe as gifted as some of the others runners we’ve had,” Rogers said. “But nobody could outwork Witt.”

And while the senior may have missed out on his top goal, a team state title, Nix led the team to a third overall finish at the Class AAA state meet, finishing fourth individually with a time of 16 minutes and 46 seconds in Carrollton, after crushing the field to win the Region 7-AAA meet.

For his efforts, Nix is The Times Cross Country Boys Runner of the Year.

While he may not have always been looked at as a future cross country star, Nix has been running for most of his life.

“I’ve been running with my dad since I was 8,” Nix said. “At first he was pretty much dragging me along — he would always have to coax me to be ready for the Peachtree.”

Eventually Nix found satisfaction in running, and his reason is simple.

“I get to see all the hard work I put in directly pay off,” he said. “If you do the work you get faster.”

So Nix worked at it, and kept improving. He joined the cross country program in the seventh grade, but was still just 12th on the team when he began his sophomore year, meaning a second stint on the junior varsity.

But he worked his way up into the top seven, and by his junior season he had secured himself as the No. 3 runner behind seniors Brandon Lawson and Luis Gonzalez.

He entered his senior season as the No. 1 runner, but more importantly as the team captain — no missed day of practice by a fellow runner escaped his attention.

“He was our team captain. I can’t think of a top guy missing practice all year long, but I remember one guy missed a Sunday and that’s all you heard about for two weeks, that he shouldn’t be tired because he took a day off,” Rogers said. “It was all good natured, of course, but it worked.”

With Nix, Tucker LoCicero and Bryce Schuebert already known quantities coming into the season, Rogers said that Nix worked on getting the other runners up to par so that the Trojans could have a shot at the team state title.

“I wanted to be one of the top two in the state and I really wanted the team championship, but St. Pius was incredible on that day, and that wasn’t going to happen,” Nix said of the state finish.

At least he has a chance to get back to a state meet before he tries his hand at running in college. Nix, who ran the 800-meter and 1600 last year in track, plans to run the mile and two-mile this season.

In fact, it was the simple fact of competing in track his sophomore year that sealed his fate as a runner. He had been deciding between track and soccer for the spring, but he said Barger, the 2010 state cross country champ, convinced him to stick with running in all seasons.

“He said if I put in the work, I’d see results,” Nix remembered.

Barger was right. Nix was the top runner at one of the state’s top programs for his senior season, running a 15:55 at the region meet and keeping his competitiveness through meets and practice.

“He wasn’t going to lose to one of his teammates,” Rogers said. “It’s really just his hard work and determination. He doesn’t have great speed, but when he gets to the end of the race, he’s going to win it or die trying. He was not going to give away a race.

“He’s one of these kids that shows that if you can put in the hard work, you’re going to be successful.”


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