Though weighing only 165 pounds, Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.) junior Gunnar Nixon is coming on like a tidal wave as a dominant force in the decathlon.
The 6-foot-3 star won, perhaps, the greatest prep decathlon duel ever when he amassed 7,573 points to win the prestigious Arcadia (Calif.) Invitational with the second-highest score in national history. On his heels with the No. 3 all-time score was Brentwood (Tenn.) senior Kevin Lazas with 7,510.
Nixon trailed Lazas by eight points entering the final event, the 1,500-meter run. A second-place finish enabled him to take the coveted title. Lazas was a close third.
Nixon won five of the 10 events – setting personal records in the 100-meter dash (11.15 seconds), long jump (23 feet), pole vault (13-6) and javelin (181-10). He won the 100, high jump (6-11½), 400 (49.59), 110 hurdles (14.63) and javelin.
During the past winter, the Oklahoma star won the pentathlon during the Nike Indoor Nationals in Boston with 4,141 points, which is No. 2 all-time.
Growing up in Tulsa, Nixon began competing in track as a seventh-grader "just to stay in shape for football," he said. " I was not that great. In eighth grade I was unbeaten. I just started excelling and growing into my body."
Watching decathletes during the 2007 Junior Olympics, Nixon was impressed and told himself, "I can run and jump; I can do that. I just need to get stronger."
Since last year he has increased his bench press from 155 pounds to 205. He knows he has to show improvement in the pole vault, shot put and discus and believes more practice time is all he needs.
Santa Fe coach Carl Hawkins says that Nixon "really amazes me. I don’t have to push him too hard. I have to shut him down a little bit. As an athlete he’s pretty well rounded. He could do football or basketball. He (just) needs to get stronger and more powerful. He’s just a beanpole, but is really defined. He’s the last one to leave the fieldhouse every day."
Though he has to wait for his senior year, Nixon is confident that he will surpass the national decathlon record of 7,909 points by Curtis Beach of Albuquerque Academy (N.M.).
* Parkway Central (Chesterfield, Mo.) senior distance runner Emily Sisson will miss her final track campaign because she chose to run in the Nike Indoor Nationals, which was not sanctioned by her state association. She used it as a tuneup for the World Cross Country Championships.
Jesuit makes soccer history
Dallas Jesuit nipped Houston Strake Jesuit, 2-0, during a shootout to become the first Texas private school to win the Class 5A boys state soccer championship. Goalkeeper Ryan Aubrey was MVP as the Rangers completed a 25-0 campaign. Strake Jesuit finished with a 27-1-1 record.
* Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis, Mo.) edged Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village, Colo.), 2-1, to win the first annual Heart of America Classic girls soccer tournament in Kansas City, Mo. Senior Kelly Gravlin was named MVP. She scored two goals during the tourney and freshman Mel Donaldson accounted for the title-game winner. Cherry Creek senior Molly Pomeroy was high scorer with four goals in three games.
McCallum scores 25
The Black team beat the White team, 133-124, during the annual Derby Festival Basketball Classic before a crowd of 6,240 in Louisville, Ky. Gorgui Dieng, a 6-10 senior from Huntington Prep (W.Va.), earned MVP honors for the winners with 15 points and eight blocks. Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) senior guard Ray McCallum scored 25 points and was named MVP for the losers.
* Baylor University has received a commitment from 6-5 junior Quevyn Winters, who averaged 19.3 points last winter for Washington (Milwaukee, Wis.).
* Belated congratulations go to the famed Hurley family of Jersey City, N.J. Father Bob (St. Anthony) is only the third high school coach to make the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, joining Morgan Wootten and Ernest Blood. He has led St. Anthony to 984 victories, 24 state and three national titles.
Youngest son Danny Hurley has taken the head coaching job at Wagner College after building St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) into a national prep powerhouse. He is bringing his older brother, former Duke star Bobby Hurley, from Florida to be one of his assistant coaches.
Jill Prudden retires
One of the nation’s premier girls basketball coaches, Jill Prudden, has retired at Oak Ridge (Tenn.). The 54-year-old Prudden led Oak Ridge to a 908-161 record, three state titles and six runner-up finishes during her 31-year career. Assistant David Scott is her successor.
6-2 star picks Virginia
Sarah Imovbioh, a 6-2 junior, has made a commitment to the University of Virginia. She averaged 32.2 points, 20 rebounds, 4.9 blocks and 4.3 steals this year for Saint Annes-Belfield (Charlottesville, Va.) and exploded for 53 points in her final game.
Wheeler sets Delaware record
Larry Wheeler became Delaware’s all-time winningest baseball coach when Delaware Military Academy (Wilmington, Del.) defeated Wilmington Charter, 7-5, for his 412th victory.
* Chambersburg baseball coach Bob Thomas is expected to undergo heart surgery this week, according to the Harrisburg Patriot News. The 75-year-old marvel has compiled a 754-229 record with three state titles in 45 years.
* Sophomore Nick Hainsworth struck out 16 and belted a bases-loaded triple as St. Georges Tech (Middletown, Del.) defeated Holy Cross (Flushing, N.Y.), 11-3.
* Senior Patrick Sullivan collected a single, double, triple and home run in addition to pitching a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts as Hotchkiss (Colo.) routed Coal Ridge, 19-0, in five innings.
Flenniken strikes out 33
St. Ursula Academy (Cincinnati, Ohio) nipped Clermont Northeastern, 1-0, in a 16-inning softball thriller as senior Megan Flenniken struck out 33 and scattered four hits.
* University (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) sophomore Ashley Rey struck out 15 during a 13-2 rout of Chaminade-Madonna.
* Sadly, standout sophomore pitcher Kristi Denny has had to give up her promising softball career at El Toro (Lake Forest, Calif.) after being hit in the head by a fierce line drive. Her father, John Denny, told this writer that following a recent exam, she was advised by her doctor that it would be too dangerous to risk another head injury, because she already has been hit four times in her career.
Famed football coach dies
Collierville’s Paul Cox, one of Tennessee’s finest – and most loved – football coaches, died Sunday from an apparent heart attack. The 67-year-old legend had retired last fall as the state’s sixth-winningest coach, with a 280-133 record.
"He was an awesome guy and touched so many lives," said Murphy Fair, who is editor and publisher of Murphy Fair’s Tennessee High School Football Magazine.
* Bound Brook (N.J.) junior Andrew Campolattano has made a commitment to play football at Rutgers University, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. He is a three-time state champion wrestler with a 131-1 record.