COLUMBIA-- When Aaron Dixon was in high school, he never thought he would come to Missouri. He never thought he would run the 800-meter dash in less than 1 minute, 50 seconds.
He certainly never thought he would be a contender for a conference championship. But that is exactly what he is in his senior year at MU.
Dixon spent one year at Rend Lake College before joining the team at MU. His best time in the 800 at Rend Lake was 1:53.
"Honestly, I thought that was my peak," Dixon said. "I was the type of guy in high school that I was good, but I wasn't amazing."
Last season, he set a personal best with a 1:47.39 at the NCAA First Round.
"It's amazing to me that I ran a 1:47," Dixon said. "I didn't think I'd be there. I thought I'd be pretty good but not nearly a nationally ranked competitive guy. It's beyond me."
This year, Dixon's expectations have changed.
"There's no excuse for why I shouldn't be there in the top three," Dixon said about next week's Big 12 Championships in Norman, Okla.
Up until last weekend at Drake, Dixon didn't look like he was going to reach that goal. He ran a 1:49.46 at Drake, breaking 1:50 for the first time this season.
"Once you break that barrier at 1:50, that's when it's just a big weight off your back," Dixon said. "I'm ready to race now."
Missouri is lucky to have Dixon, who grew up in Lee's Summit. Dixon said that at one time, coming to MU was, "a last resort," but after looking at other schools, MU rose to the top of his list.
As he started to talk to Division 1 coaches about joining their programs, former head coach Rick McGuire's philosophy caught Dixon's attention.
"A team's philosophy is quite important, Dixon said. "You can be good but if the coach cares nothing about the athlete, I'm not interested."
"With Coach McGuire, the emphasis was on athlete growing. Not only as an athlete but as a man or woman and as a student. Most schools are not that way."
Now, Dixon has spent four years on the team and considers everybody on the team to be his friend. He has an especially strong bond with fellow senior Chris Davis.
"Chris is a very reliable guy," Dixon said. "We both share the same beliefs. He's fun, he jokes all the time."
When the seniors were recognized at the Tom Botts Invitational in April, Dixon walked arm-in-arm down the track with Davis when Davis' name was called. The two shared huge grins as they walked slowly toward their coach. With a few strides left, Dixon scurried off the track to give his buddy his time in the spotlight.
In December, Dixon will graduate from MU with a degree in sociology and hopes to attend law school either at MU or at a school in a big city.
But graduation won't stop Dixon from running.
"Next year I'll definitely still be running, and the year after that, hopefully I hit a mark and I can go to the trials, its a great experience," Dixon said