Media Information Director
DPS Office of Athletics
Like a lot of the runners competing in cross country, Pershing High’s Nijzah Hill uses the sport as a form of conditioning to prepare for basketball season.
What separates Hill from most in that category is that she’s a winner in both sports.
For the second time in as many meets this season, Hill crossed the finish line far ahead of the nearest challenger Monday to fortify her selection as the Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week.
“I stay with the people in front and then I take off on them when we get to the straightaway,’’ said Hill, whose winning time of 23:02 on a muddy, rain-soaked course at Belle Isle was 1:27 better than the second-place finisher. Her goal is simple. “Don’t let anybody beat me,” she said.
It helps Hill that her dad, Shawn Hill, is both the girls’ basketball and girls’ cross country coach.
“She’s a very hard worker and a serious competitor,’’ he said. “She won’t settle for second. She’s a natural. Running is something she’s been doing since she was 11 or 12. She just loves to compete.”
Hill, a 5-7 junior, admits she doesn’t get nearly the amount of pleasure from winning in cross country as she does from playing basketball. She was a key member of Pershing’s Class A state semifinalist basketball team as a freshman and last year helped the Doughgirls’ reach the state quarterfinals.
“Cross country keeps me in shape and helps my endurance for basketball,’’ she said. “That’s why we’re hard to beat. Everybody else is tired but we play longer.”
A solid student with a 3.5 grade point average, Hill is confident of earning a scholarship to play college basketball. She plans to major in Accounting.
Hill was also a Proud Strong Learner of the Week last cross country season and is the first girls’ athlete to win the award twice since it began in 2010-11.