Sixth Annual Tim Nixon Inv. features loaded fields in Liberty
Tim Nixon built an outstanding boys and girls cross country program at Liberty High School. However, the excellent results, records, rankings, and tangible medals and trophies were just byproducts of his love of running and his passion and work to engage and invest in young people to develop strong work ethics, teamwork, and responsibility.
Tim Nixon left a lasting impact on thousands of lives while he taught and coached for the Liberty School District from 1979 until he passed away in November 2017. For the sixth straight year, many of the best individuals and cross country teams from the Kansas City metro area on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas border and beyond will make their way to the K.C. suburb of Liberty to race in the meet named in his honor, nearly six years after his unexpected passing.
The meet is loaded with teams and individuals with high expectations and goals of earning hardware at the Missouri and Kansas state meets. The meet will be the first competition for most squads while it will be the first large meet for a few teams who already dusted off the spikes with time trials or small meets that featured a handful of teams.
Liberty High School and Liberty North host the annual meet and for a second straight year, it will be held at Capital Federal Sports Complex, on a flat and fast course. Fast is the only way Liberty North's Sage Wilde ran last fall. Wilde is the brightest of the many boy stars in a stacked field of individuals in the varsity boys race on Saturday. He scorched grass all over Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas last autumn. Wilde ran to three consecutive Sub-15-minute 5k victories to kick off his junior campaign before a runner-up 15:01 finish at the Gans Creek Classic and a runner-up 14:36 Arkansas Chile Pepper finish, both trailing just Connor Burns.
Wilde went on to capture the Missouri Class 5 title with a 15:05 at Gans Creek and led his nationally ranked Liberty North squad to the state title. Despite graduating three important pieces in Grayson Tapp, Jorge Perezruiz, and Asher Curp, North is the early favorite as the top contender for this year's title (2023 Class 5 Boys Season Preview). Wilde is joined by returners Sean Forquer, and Collin Kleinhen and Kaden Kleinhen on the Eagles team, giving North the best foursome of any team in the Show-Me State.
The Eagles will be racing for a 4th-straight state trophy. Their top-4 could all finish in the top 10-20 at state in Class 5, so expecting them to all finish in the top 10 or 15 on Saturday wouldn't be a surprise. Wilde won last year's race in 14:54.40.
The meet has a little extra meaning for Chatlos, who co-directs the meet with Liberty head coach Jordan English. Chatlos ran for Liberty and Nixon before becoming one of Nixon's assistant coaches at Liberty and eventually the Liberty North coach when the district opened its second high school. English, an avid multi-sport endurance athlete, got into coaching in 2018, taking Nixon's spot on a standout staff at Liberty.
Wilde isn't the only star who will vie for a top-5 state finish and a top honors Saturday in Liberty. Liberty Jays' senior Peyton Willbanks is coming off a breakthrough year that included a 13th-place Class 5 state finish, a 9:20 3200-meter track PR, and a 7th-place Class 5 state track 3200m finish. Willbanks will try to lead the Jays to another state meet trip despite losing standout Myles Thornburg to graduation and the college ranks at Southeast Missouri State.
Lincoln College Prep's Isaac Rivera is finally a senior. Rivera will be in contention weekly for race titles no matter who he toes the line against. He not only should battle the Liberty North boys and Willbanks for the distinction as Kansas City, Missouri's best runner, but he's also the top contender for the Class 4 state title (Class 4 Boys Season Preview). It seems as if he's been top 10-15 talent in the state for more than just the three years he's been in high school.