Nikki Hiltz celebrates after defeating Emily Mackay to win the women's 1,500 meters during the USATF Indoor Championships at Albuquerque Convention Center. | Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you thought 2023 was dominant for American distance champion Nikki Hiltz, the 2023 Outsports Nonbinary Athlete of the Year sent a strong message over the weekend about their plans for 2024.

Hiltz grabbed the lead from Emily McKay at the bell lap of the women’s 1500-meter final at USA Track and Field Indoor National Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., Saturday, and powered to their second straight indoor title at the distance. The win sends Hiltz to the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Glasgow, U.K., March 1-3 to represent Team USA.

“I told myself all day, ‘I’m going to have the fastest last 200, I’m going to have a really good last 200,’” Hiltz said to reporters after the event. “And the more that I focused on executing that, the less nervous I got because all my focus could go towards that.”

A raised fist and a happy smile at the finish at 4:08.35 punctuated an effort where they were in control of the race, even while stalking the leaders from fourth place. It was also a continuation of a string of successes for Hiltz over the last year.

Hiltz also won national road 1-Mile and the outdoor 1500 national titles and set an American record in the mile in 2023. Last month Hiltz raced to a new U.S. indoor record in the 1000 meters at the University of Washington invitational, and ran fourth in the 2-mile at the Milrose Games in a dogfight with British distance star Laura Muir, Ethiopia’s Melknat Wudu and 2-Mile American record holder Alicia Monson.

Tune up race below at above the 1500-meter distance prepared Hiltz the confidently grab the race and then fight off a determined challenge from second-place finisher Emily McKay | Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

They said the focus on speed in the 1000, and strength with the 2-mile, was good preparation to get back to their main event at nationals.

“This was my first 1500 in a while and I was excited to get back to this event,” Hiltz said postrace. “Milrose was awesome and it was way outside my comfort zone but I learned so much so I was proud of myself for that.

“Coming here I was like, ‘I’m going to win.’ I was very confident in myself. I’ve learned over the last year that even if it’s a hot pace I can still be in it and have a good kick at the end.”

The performance sent a message to the competition, and Hiltz also sent another message worn around their neck. A small necklace adorned with the word “THEM” spelled out went along for the championship ride and continued their steadfast solidarity with trans and nonbinary fans.

“Wore my ‘them’ necklace yesterday at the US championships for all the they/thems out there,” Hiltz wrote on X. “I’m so thankful for the nonbinary and trans community for believing in me and encouraging me to continue to chase my silly little dreams. Keep showing up and taking up space.”

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