The Second Annual Tim Nixon Invitational is taking place this Saturday at the beautiful Wild Flower Course in Liberty, and it looks to be another great event with several top teams and runners.
The meet is named in honor of the late Tim Nixon. Nixon was a legendary coach at Liberty High School, and throughout his time there he had a major impact not just on his athletes, but the sport of Cross Country in Kansas City and Missouri as a whole. During his time at Liberty, he coached two state championship boys teams, and added an additional title with the girls. In addition to the state titles, his boys teams also won eleven state trophies which is the third most in state history, and his girls won an additional six state trophies.
This years meet promises to be a good one, and the format has been changed slightly from last year. This season all Varsity athletes will race together, and then separated into two divisions based on school size afterwards for awards. This ensures that all the top athletes will be in the same race, and will likely lead to better competition and faster times for all involved.
The Girls race features four teams that enter the season ranked in the top 10 in the MoMileSplit subjective rankings. These teams include #5 West Plains and #10 Hickman from Class 4, and #2 Smithville who placed second at State last year and #3 Festus who was the runner up in Class 3. The West Plains girls will be the favorites to win the team title in the Gold Division, with Hickman fighting for second place with St. Teresa's, Liberty North, and the two Class 3 ranked schools.
The race for the Individual title looks to be an interesting one as well, with Olivia Littleton (Smithville), Mia Harris (West Plains), Elizabeth Stinson (Liberty North), and Alexandra Hamre (Staley) squaring off. Littleton was the third place finisher in Class 3 last year, and holds a PR of 18:53 and I'd consider her to be the favorite. Harris as the fastest PR of the bunch with an 18:45 and was 21st at the Class 4 State Meet last, finish behind Stinson who placed 19th and owns a PR of 18:55, and Hamre who was 15th and holds a PR of 18:47.
The Boys race also features four state ranked teams, including the #1 team in Class 3 and defending State Champion Festus. Along with Festus is Class 3 #5 Smithville, and Class 4 #5 Liberty North and #6 Liberty. The race for the team title looks like it'll be extremely tight between Liberty, Liberty North, Festus, and Staley. Either one of those four teams could walk away victorious and it should be interesting to see how it unfolds.
The race for the individual title looks to be just as close with two returning Class 4 All-Staters, and two who have been All-State on the track and who are looking to make the leap in XC this season. Luke Winkler (Staley) is the top returner with a 14th place finish last year and holds a PR of 16:19, and he'll be joined by his teammate Jack Warner (Staley) who placed 19th and holds a PR of 16:14 up front. Ryan Mata (Liberty) will look to defend his home turf and he placed 29th last year at State and holds a PR of 16:20. Cale Littrell (Hickman) is a bit of a dark horse as he only placed 89th at State last year, but he holds a PR of 16:05 and has been low 16's several times.
MoMileSplit contributor Cody Thorn will be there covering the meet, so check back next week for Photo and Video coverage from the meet!