Ruston’s Dyllon Nimmers earns prestigious Gatorade state Player of the Year honor

Ruston High School’s Dyllon Nimmers is the 2020 Gatorade Louisiana Boys Cross Country Player of the Year. (Photo by AMY VESSEL)

Staff writer

Ruston High School’s Dyllon Nimmers is accustomed to standing atop the podium at cross country and track meets. Thursday, he received top honors on a national platform.

In its 36th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company announced Nimmers as its 2020 Gatorade Louisiana Boys Cross Country Player of the Year.

Nimmers, who has signed to run for LSU, is the first Gatorade Louisiana Boys Cross Country Player of the Year to be chosen from Ruston High School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, distinguishes Nimmers as Louisiana’s best high school boys cross country player. He is a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Player of the Year award to be announced soon.

“That’s very exciting, especially for a kid like Dyllon who has worked very hard through the years. He is an excellent example on, and off, the track,” said RHS head coach Allen Whitaker. “What he does in the classroom is pretty much the same level as what he does when he’s running. The discipline he shows exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete at Ruston High School, or anywhere else in the country, actually, and this honor illustrates that.

“This is a testament to all the hard work he’s put in and also is a tribute to our head cross country coach and assistant track coach, Dustin Cochran, for the countless hours and behind the scenes stuff that has helped Dyllon rise to such a high level,” said Whitaker.

The 5-foot-8-inch, 130-pound senior broke the tape at the LHSAA Class 5A State XC Championships this past season with a time of 15:17.20 over the three-mile course — the fastest all-class clocking of the day — leading the Bearcats to fourth place as a team. A 2020 LHSAA All-State selection, Nimmers went 6-0 at the three-mile distance last fall and also clocked the state’s fastest 2020 boys races at two distances with personal-best performances over three miles (15:12.91) and 5K (15:48.00). In addition, he won individual district and regional titles, anchoring Ruston’s team titles in both those races.

In February, he added an individual Division 1 indoor state title in the 800-meter run.

Nimmers has volunteered on behalf of the Christopher Youth Center for runaway and homeless youth throughout the past decade, providing assistance with yard work, painting and a variety of community service projects, including organizational fundraisers.

“Dyllon has more range than any runner I’ve seen in the last 15 years,” said Parkway High head coach Kent Falting. “He could win a state title in any event from 400 meters to 5K. More impressive than his talent is his humility. In victory or defeat, he always shows kindness to his fellow runners, cheering on his teammates and congratulating the opposing runners on their times. He is always willing to give younger runners advice, regardless of the team they compete for. Throughout all of his accomplishments, he has never stopped working to be a better athlete and a better person.”

Nimmers has maintained a 3.33 weighted GPA in the classroom.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport. The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which works with top sport-specific experts and a media advisory board of accomplished, veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.

Through Gatorade’s cause marketing platform “Play it Forward,” Nimmers has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of their choosing. Nimmers is also eligible to submit a 30-second video explaining why the organization they chose is deserving of one of twelve $10,000 spotlight grants, which will be announced throughout the year. To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $2.7 million across 1,117 organizations.

Nimmers and his RHS teammates competed Thursday at West Ouachita and run in the District 2-5A championships next week in Monroe.

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