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MONTICELLO — Garrett Dixon is a cross country coach's dream runner — a vocal leader who is also the hardest working athlete on the team. 

Monticello coach Dave Remmert knows his senior runner will push his team and set an incredible example. 

"Garrett leads by example more than anything," Remmert said. "He’s the grinder, he’s the workhorse and he works hard for everything he gets

"He definitely has talent but it’s not as big as his drive. It was nice to have both as a vocal leader and the worker leader as the same person but a lot of time that’s not the case. They are often different runners but this season Garrett was both for us and that’s special."

Dixon's work ethic propelled him to a second-place finish at the Class 1A boys cross country meet and an overall third-place finish for his team, making him the Herald & Review Area Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year. 

Dixon left it all out on the course at the state meet — pushing the lead pack and leading for much of the second and third mile. 

"I felt really good going into it and confident with how my workouts had been going. I executed it the way I wanted to. I let them blast the first mile and I was going to hold back and after the first mile I was going to push the pace and burn out most of the the kids," Dixon said. "I took the lead and pushed the pace and so it would set me up in a good position to tire them out and prepare for the last mile.

"I was trying to use the corners to my advantage but I just wasn't as strong as I thought I was. I overshot what I thought I would have left in the last 400 and that’s what it came down to."

Remmert said he saw nothing but positives in Dixon's race. 

"That was the best time he ever ran at state. He is so gutty and I loved the way that he ran. I could not really have asked for it to have turned out differently," he said. "Given (Garrett's) style as a runner, that was his type of race — make the other guys earn it. Christopher Collet (from Seneca) who ended up winning it he had to earn it.

"(Garrett) pushed very very hard and when you are a coach and you are seeing this play out, and of course you want to see him win it, but to see him drive like he did and charge to the front like he did and then with like 300 meters left still have the lead — you can’t really ask for much better than that."

Dixon is certain the underclassmen took home some lessons from this year's state meet.

"I feel like the guys team as a whole learned a lot from it. Some of the younger kids learned a lesson about the importance of summer training," Dixon said. "For myself, I know I gave everything I had and there are no regrets at all and it just turned out the way it did. For the team, I think in the future years, they are more determined now than they were before it. They learned a lot from it and will put in a lot more work because they got a taste for it."

One of those "younger kids" is Dixon's brother Morgan Dixon, a sophomore. The brothers are opposites but have found a bond through cross country. As older brothers tend to do, Garrett isn't afraid to give some words of advice on Morgan's running.  

"It’s fun and definitely challenging at times. We have gotten a lot closer through cross country. We don’t have that much in common and we are sort of polar opposites outside of running so it has been a bond and it has been pretty cool," Garrett said. "(Morgan) could have trained more this summer and I think he is far more talented than I am so it is aggravating to see him not using that.

"I think he’s going to shock himself in track (with his success) and I think he is going to build upon that and be a domino effect to cross country."

Along with his success at state, a moment Garrett will take with him came earlier in the season at the St. Joseph-Ogden Spartan Classic. 

At St. Joseph, I ran my fastest time for three miles (14:40). We all felt good that day and it was great," Dixon said. "It was inspiring, I finished and I looked around and already the rest of the team was about to finish. Right then I was really confident about how our season was going to turn out."

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Contact Matthew Flaten at (217) 421-6968. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFlaten

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