Paul and North win state title

It's good to be the king. Perhaps that's what the boy's track team from Omaha North said as they stood, preparing to accept their championship medals for winning the Class A state championship this weekend. Or maybe it was just some congratulations to the other teams for a good overall meet. Well, yeah, I am sure there was some of that, but there was a little something else. How does "I told you so!" catch you?

Days, maybe even weeks prior to the 2006 Nebraska State Track Meet, there was a little talking going on. Yes, we know about Niles Paul and the confident swagger he brings to the table, but he wasn't alone.

In fact, from Niles standpoint, it was the folly of one particular team, which only helped to motivate Omaha North as it rolled its way to the Class A State Title, the second in its history – that one coming as part of a shared title with Bellevue in 1970. "The guys over at Omaha Central were talking all kinds of stuff," Niles said. "But they weren't just talking trash."

"They were disrespecting us, saying all kinds of things, using all kinds of words. That was their biggest mistake."

Now, Niles himself will tell you that it's ok to talk trash as long as that's all you are doing. If you want to talk like you are the man, so be it, but make sure to prove it. But you never say nothing that makes it personal.

Apparently Central did, which gave even more motivation to an Omaha North team, which probably didn't need that much to begin with.

But it's not like North needed a whole lot of help.

On the weekend, Omaha North scored 70 total team points, taking wins in the 110m hurdles (Niles Paul), 300m hurdles (Paul), 4x400m relay (Cameron Sessions, Niles Paul, Thomas Warren, Derius Garner) and the 4x100m relay (Sessions, Paul, Warren, Garner).

The Vikings also took second in the long jump (Mauro Parnell) and triple jump (Parnell), along with taking third and fourth (Garner, Warren, respectively) in the 400m dash fourth (Garner) in the 200m dash.

That was enough to propel them to a convincing win, the second place team – last year's overall winner (Fremont), finishing with just over half of North's points, scoring 39.00 for the meet.

Omaha Central? They finished tied for 13th

Their performance, along with North's own dominating performance, had Paul in a frenzy much of the meet, but never more than win North won the 4x100m relay, Central finishing second. "You ask anybody, I was talking so much trash after we won that, everyone had to have heard me," Paul said. "All the stuff they were saying about us earlier, you KNOW I was throwing it right back at them."

"It's ok to talk trash, but the difference here was, we knew we could back it up."

That's what some, perhaps most would say about Paul himself. There's a confidence he has to be sure. But as you can see, it's not unfounded optimism. It's what separates the good ones from the great ones – the men from the boys.

"You have to know that you are the man," Paul said of his mindset going into any competition. "Michael Jordan had that confidence –that swagger. He talked a lot of stuff, but he knew what he could do and his opponents knew it too."

Confidence is one thing, but without the work ethic, it doesn't matter. You can be as talented as anyone, faster than most everyone, and you are still not going to be on top. That was one other thing he picked up in his life, which has served him will to this day.

"When my mom passed, I wanted to do my best for her," Niles said. "My uncle (Ahman Green) has taught me a lot, but it was her that motivated me to do everything in my power."

"Now, if I am sitting at home by myself, I'll just get up and feel like I need to do something."

"That's for her."

Once again Paul comes through, and even better, it was his team that came out on top over the weekend. Sure, Paul won his share of individual awards, but you could tell in Paul's voice that he was happier with the team wins than he was his own.

So, this feels good. For Paul and his teammates, the second state title in their history, the first since any of these young men have been alive, and it didn't hurt that while they weren't the first to do it, Omaha North put the one-time Nebraska track legend (Kearney High) down another peg, now two years removed from a run, where the Bearcats won 13 straight titles.

It even prompted someone to come up and say ‘thanks'.

"It was kind of funny, some guy came up to us and said ‘Thanks for kicking Kearney's @#%$.'." Niles said. "Which is great, but it wasn't just them. We kicked everybody's."

It's good to be the king.

Big Red Report Top Stories