Nia Dorner closed her high school career with her best race — and won gold for it.
After a personal-best in sprinting to the state 400-meter title in front of thousands of fans at the CIF State Track and Field Championships, Nia Dorner could have basked in the glow with a victory lap.
Instead, the soft-spoken senior sprinter from Cordova High quietly celebrated before congratulating the other finalists. “I was happy and said to myself, ‘I did it! I did it!’,” Dorner said. “But I didn’t jump around on the track or anything. That’s just not my style.”
She won with the nation’s second-fastest time by a high school sprinter in 2013.
Despite her competitiveness and athletic talents, Dorner has always valued compassion over cut-throat competition. Her tendency to comfort and care for others has long been a trait observed by her mother, Belinda Holmes, and others, that has grown into a passion she hopes to further develop in the nursing program at the University of Texas.
“She has always had a gift of taking care of others,” Hopkins said. “When she was young, she would carry Band-Aids in case anyone got hurt, and later she carried Neosporin along with the Band-Aids.”
Dorner said that she wants to become a doctor or a nurse practitioner, preferably in pediatrics. “I want to do something to help people, and be good at it,” she said. “I had to let schools know that I wanted to compete on the track as well as in academics.”
That desire to be a successful student-athlete is what led her to Texas, which just happens to have a very good track and field program. Dorner said some schools attempted to steer her to other medical interests in order to be successful on the track, but the Longhorns showed the greatest respect for her athletic and academic goals.
“When I visited Texas, I got the opportunity to speak to a track athlete that was in the nursing program about her experiences,” she said. “She told me that they were supportive of her athletically and academically, so the choice was easier. I don’t want to go to school just for track. I am a student-athlete.”
Dorner’s zeal for education has never stopped her from dominating on the track, though. As a senior, she won her fourth Sac-Joaquin Section Masters title in the 400 meters and second in the 200-meter sprint.
The personal-best time of 53.0 at state was the culmination of a year-long mission to be the best 400-meter sprinter in California. Dorner finished second at state as a junior and immediately set out to improve.
The 2013 state finish was an emphatic victory that justified all of Dorner’s hard work and dedication to her craft.
But you wouldn’t know it by her business-like reaction to the best race of her life. That wouldn’t be her style.
THE DORNER FILES
• THE STATS: The senior sprinter won her fourth Sac Joaquin Section Masters title in the 400 meters and second 200-meter title before earning a pair of podium finishes at the state meet, including the 400-meter state championship.
• SIGNATURE PERFORMANCE: Dorner outran the field with a personal-best 53.0 in the 400 meter final at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in Clovis to earn the first-ever sprint title for a female from the section. The time was also the second-fastest mark recorded during the 2013 season.
• WHAT’S NEXT: The talented student-athlete will attend Texas, where she will pursue an undergraduate degree in the school’s Nursing program while running on the Longhorns’ track team.
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