By Gabriel Stovall
McDONOUGH — Since Devin Dixon burst onto the state track scene last season and won a state title in the 800 meters, the Eagle’s Landing junior’s back has gotten heavier.
That’s what happens when you accomplish things in your first year on the track that others have spent years trying to do. It’s the reason why the extra weight he said he feels on his back is not due to injury, or anything like that.
It’s due to success.
“Oh yes, this season is so different,” Dixon said. “I feel like I’ve got a big target on me. It’s a big target on my back and I can definitely feel it.”
How so, Mr. Dixon?
“It’s like when you’re standing at the starting line waiting for your race to start and you can see your competitors talking to each other. And then they’ll say to me, ‘You’re Devin, right? Ok, well I definitely got you know. I’m going to beat you this race.
“Everybody challenges you.”
The word “challenge” being operative, because so far the main threat to unseat Dixon from his state championship perch in the 800 meters seems to be his own knees and shins.
The junior missed “about three weeks” worth of action, thanks to the kind of injuries that — despite all his giftedness — shows how raw he still is in the sport.
“At first I hurt my knee because I didn’t stretch out my muscles enough, and they were in knots, and that was putting stress on my knee,” Dixon said.
And the shins?
“With my shins, I didn’t know how to stop. When I’m running at full speed I didn’t know how to slow down and stop. I would just stop quick and it would irritate my shins.”
But here’s how good the slender speedster is: In his first return to action several weeks ago he won the only race he ran — the 400 meters. He followed that up last Thursday by capturing first place in the 1600 at a three-school, Eagle’s Landing hosted meet with a finishing time of 4:45.30.
And just this past Saturday at the 2nd Annual Run Fit Golden Eagle Invite, he won his speciality, the 800, with a time of 1:58.91.
The scary part may be that for all the success Dixon has had this season, injuries aside, he feels like he still has not peaked — let alone even gotten back to his 2014 championship form.
Scary stuff for those challengers he spoke of who are trying to shoot at the bullseye on his back. And if Dixon becomes the runner he believes he can be this season, opponents may be relegated to only being able to see that target from a distance.
“Knowing that people think that about me and want to beat me makes me work harder,” he said. “This year, I know I can do better. Last year I didn’t know my full speed, so I didn’t use it as much. This year I don’t hesitate to use my full speed. I don’t underestimate anyone. I’m still trying to find that ‘last year’ me, you know hat I mean? The fastest me. I haven’t fully hit my peak yet. I’m still working on it.”