Paul looking to make a statement this weekend

The approaching summer is the off-season for many, but for some, it's just another part of the year, where they get to show what they can do. For Omaha North's Niles Paul, he's traded in football cleats for track spikes, getting ready for the state meet this weekend. Like he is with football, Paul is confident, knowing that he and his team are ready. It's just another opportunity to dominate.

With the Nebraska State Track Meet coming this weekend, Niles Paul has his game face on. Well, it's not so much his game face, because that's the face he wears all the time. Competing in the 110m hurdles, 300m hurdles, along with his team competing in the 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay, Paul's confidence is riding high. "We're the fastest in the state in everything," Niles said. "In the 4x400 we have the best time in the state. We have the best time in the 4x100 and I've got the top mark in the state in both the 110 and 300 hurdles."

"We know we're the fastest. We just have to get out there and do it again."

When Paul does compete in state this weekend, he's got one specific goal in mind. Yes, winning is always the ultimate goal, but he's got at least one number in mind. "I want to get in the 13s," Niles said of running a sub-14-second 110m time. "I've gotten there handheld, but I want to do it accutrack."

That's the only timing method that counts, the elite of the entire country only being counted as that if their times are recorded electronically. And if Paul makes good on his goal of getting that time, he'll vault himself into the top 10 performers in the country, according to The best time out there currently is a 13.42, achieved by Oscar Spurlock in Carter, Texas.

"Those Texas guys are running like crazy down there," Paul noted. "I just want to get under a 14. If I do that, I'm happy."

The state record for the 110m hurdles is held by Mashona Marsh, who ran a 13.8 way back in 1975.

When the meet is over, it might be back to normal life for Paul, depending on just what you think normal is. There will be the usual working out, the staying in shape and making sure that when fall arrives, he's ready to do his best.

Paul isn't one of those types, who thinks that doing just ok is good enough. Whatever he did before, the next time it's going to be better. "Yeah, you always want to get better," he said. "Whatever it is, you want to get better."

"Last year I won the 300, but not the 110. I'm taking them both this year."

Not joining him will be teammate Phillip Bates, who evidently just missed out on qualifying for state this year. That's a shame for Paul, because both he and Bates seem to be solid motivation for the other.

It's what prompted Niles to say to Bates even before he committed to Iowa State, that he wished him luck, but told him to not hold his breath when it came to beating Nebraska. "Oh yeah, I told him we would kill them no matter where he went," Paul joked. "So, when he committed to Iowa State, I told him I was happy for him, but he just better be ready to get killed when we go against each other."

"He'll be happy, but not when we play each other. He'll just be on the losing team."

As the time progresses since his commit to Nebraska, Niles hasn't found himself with a wandering eye, looking at other schools. And it's not because they aren't looking at him either. They are. In fact, according to Niles, only one team has really backed off since he gave his pledge to the Huskers.

"Notre Dame backed off, but that's about it. The others are still sending me stuff and all that," Niles said. "Iowa is probably the most, but they just talk to me, tell me I should come to their junior day and see what their program is like."

Paul certainly appreciates the attention and even Ahman advised him at one point that he should actually make sure by looking around. Niles said ‘naaah', figuring that he knew and knows where he will always want to be.

"That's my team right there," Paul said of Nebraska. "I told him (Ahman) that's where I wanted to be and he said ‘ok' and that I should just get it done."

Since it's been done, recruiting is what it is, teams will try, and perhaps even more teams will enter into the mix. That's up to them, but Paul has other things on his mind. The Huskers, of course, but his high school team and this weekend are foremost on his mind.

"We're going to tear it up this weekend," Paul said. "We're ready to take everyone down."

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