Brookville's Nixon hurdles to Clemson
Lynchburg News & Advance
Friday, February 8, 2008
Ethan Nixon followed his family's lead onto the track at Brookville, eventually surpassing his older brother, uncles and father Mike's success in the 55-meter hurdles, his signature event.
Friday afternoon in the school's library, Nixon charted his own course for the future, signing a partial athletic scholarship to Clemson University in front of a crowd of more than 20 family members and dozens more students and coaches.
"Seeing all my friends and family, and all the cameras, it was overwhelming," Nixon said. "My family is about track and they've been so supportive. Signing that piece of paper, it was a dream come true."
Nixon becomes the first Brookville track and field athlete since Ross Schaffstall, a shot putter who went to Auburn in 1975, to sign a Division I scholarship. He said his decision wasn't influenced by his dad, who competed at Liberty University, or coach, Ramsey Moore, an all-American decathlete at LU.
"Everybody's thrown their opinion out but at the same time they let me know it's my choice because I'm the one who's going to be running there for the next four years," said Nixon, who also considered offers from LU and VMI. "They want me to go where I'm going to be comfortable to succeed."
Jim Scott, who held all of Brookville's hurdling records before Nixon broke his 55-meter mark in 2006 and 300-meter time last spring, recommended Nixon to Clemson head coach Bob Pollock, a fellow Citadel track and field alumnus. He made four visits over the past two years, attending two football games this fall, and was sold on becoming a Tiger last month.
He believes it will provide the best atmosphere to meet his lofty ambitions in the sport.
"My goal is to run track in the 2012 Olympics and if that's what I want to do, that's what I will do," said Nixon, who is considering studying accounting and business or economics at Clemson. "My goal is to run professionally."
Both Clemson and LU recruited Nixon to be a decathlete, but he is leaning toward focusing on the hurdles and jumps in college.
He will have excellent coaches to help him achieve those goals, including sprint coach Charles Foster, a former World Class hurdler and lead project manager for Track & Field for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta who has coached 21 NCAA champions sprinters and hurdlers.
Foster has helped transform three current Clemson sprinters into the nation's best - Travis Padgett, C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford, who could all run in this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing. Spiller clocked the fastest 60-yard time in the nation and the sixth-fastest time ever recorded in the world at last week's meet at North Carolina.
Nixon traveled to Virginia Tech immediately after Friday's signing ceremony to see the Tigers in action in the VT Elite Meet. He is eager to start his career at Clemson, but first has some business to tend to at Brookville.
"I'm glad it's over with, the decision's made and now I can get to work and finish what I started," said Nixon, who set meet records in the 55 hurdles in the past two Group AA indoor state meets at LU, also placing in all three jumping events to lead the Bees to a team title last winter. "My goal this year is to win more than just the hurdles at the state meet. I want to make a statement to show I'm ready to take it to the next level ? and make an impact on the team as a freshman."