Back in the fall, Nigel Mitchell did a little bit of everything for the Red Bank Regional High School football team.
Red Bank offensive coordinator Dan Mendoza found ways to get Mitchell the ball as a wide receiver, as a running back and even as a quarterback. Then after the Buccaneers’ season ended with a 33-14 loss at Long Branch High School during Thanksgiving Day, Mendoza endeavored to make Mitchell less of a football player.
The offensive coordinator is also Red Bank’s boys’ track and field coach in the spring. Mitchell plays for that team as well, as a short distance specialist. With his multi positional football speed, the senior was always a natural fit for track and field, too. He just never trained for his second sport until this past winter, when he shifted his regimen to focus on running.
It has led to great results in 2019.
On May 15 at Central Regional High School in Bayville, in the Shore Conference championships, Mitchell claimed first place in the 100-meter dash and in the 200-meter dash. He completed the 100-meter dash in 10.71 and the 200-meter dash in 21.48.
“Nigel has God given talent,” Mendoza said. “But he attacked this offseason harder than he did in the past.”
“I went in with a full head of steam,” Mitchell said. “I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I had to prepare right.”
“And I think it went well,” he added.
Mitchell was especially jacked about his victory in the 100-meter dash. Donovan Catholic High School’s James Bivins entered that race as the clear favorite. He had better times than Mitchell all spring and even won the preliminary heat at the Shore Conference championships.
But in the championship race, Mitchell came back to beat Bivins over the last 60 meters. After they crossed the finish line, the senior found his rival in the crowd and hugged him.
“He knows that it’s all competition. No hate,” Mitchell said. “We’re here to just run and get better.”
Mitchell would not have stood a chance against Bivins without his endurance workouts over the offseason. They helped him find that extra gear at the moment of truth.
“I mainly focused on track this time,” he said. “Building endurance to make sure I finish the race.”
In 2018, Mitchell won the 200-meter dash at the NJSIAA Group 3 championships. With that victory, he also qualified for the NJSIAA Meet of Champions. But in the biggest race of the season, Mitchell was disqualified for leaving the starting line early.
The taste of success and then the agony of defeat motivated his decision to work harder in the winter. It is also fueling him now, as he moves toward the 2019 Group 3 championships, which will be run on May 31 at Central Regional, and hopefully the 2019 Meet of Champions, scheduled to be held on June 8 at Northern Burlington County Regional High School in Columbus.
Mitchell is sure to face more opponents like Bivins as the meets get bigger. But he is confident that he didn’t even run his best race against the Donovan Catholic standout.
“I haven’t reached my full potential yet,” Mitchell said. “There’s still more to come.”
“As long as he competes and has a chip on his shoulder, things still could happen for him,” Mendoza added.