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Raiders' Hixon earns top honor in Cascade

ASHLAND — Jared Hixon squeezed every last drop out of his five-year career at Southern Oregon University. And on Friday morning, six days after becoming a national champion in his final race, he was named the Cascade Conference Men's Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

A product of Palmdale, Calif., Hixon is the seventh Raider to claim the award, which is voted on by the league's coaches and originated in 1996.

At the NAIA outdoor championships, he became SOU's 13th men's champion by winning the 1,500 meters as the No. 7 seed with a time of 3:52.73.

Two weeks before that, he put forth a runner-of-the-meet performance at the Cascade Conference Championships with titles in the 1,500 (3:53.76) and the 5,000 (14:30.42). He'd never before earned all-conference (top-three) honors at the meet, but he scored for the Raiders as they won titles in his sophomore (2012), junior (2014) and senior seasons.

Counting the postseason, Hixon won each of his last five races. His 5K time at the CCC meet was also the fourth-fastest in school history.

Hixon stamped the big finish on top of a year that started with disappointment: He placed sixth at the CCC cross country championships — his third straight All-CCC finish, contributing to SOU's eighth straight championship — but his bid to become a cross country All-American for the second year in a row and lead second-ranked SOU to a title was derailed. He and CCC champion Ray Schireman missed the NAIA championship race because of illness.

He'll leave Ashland with one of the most decorated resumes in Raider history, including four All-America accolades — two in the 1,500 (he placed fourth in 2014 before a redshirt season in 2015), one in cross country and one with SOU's runner-up indoor distance medley relay team last year.

His career personal bests were 3:51.13 in the 1,500 and 14:30.42 in the 5K.