Nikki Hiltz defended their national championship at 1500 in record style and put their name on the short list of medal contenders in Paris Sunday | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

American middle distance runner Nikki Hiltz has been known for two things: Being USA Track and Field’s first nonbinary national champion, and also as a tactical racer with a strong finishing kick.

On the final day of the U.S. Olympic Track and Fields trials, the Outsports 2023 Nonbinary Athlete of the Year showed they can win when the pace depends on flat-out speed as much as tactics.

In a flying 1500-meter final that turned into a bell-lap battle, Hiltz swept past Emily Mackay and Elle St. Pierre with 60 meters left to win the event and defend their 2023 national championship in a U.S. Olympic Trials record 3:55.33.

Their performance is the second-fastest effort by an American in the female event ever in a race where each of the top-eight finishers put forth a personal best time.

Hiltz saw the potential for what would be fast final after winning their semifinal heat last Friday.

“We’re all super fit right now,” Hiltz told NBC Sports. “Things are going to be super fast so nothing changes.”

The final saw Team New Balance training partners St. Pierre, Mackay and Cory McGee push the pace. Hiltz stayed perched between fifth and fourth along with Sinclare Johnson. They were staying in contact and running strong and relaxed.

After the fastest 1500 meters of their life, Hiltz celebrated, but also put the word out that they seek to be in the medal hunt in Paris (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The race fell in line with their training priorities and improvement since a breakout year in 2023. Hiltz, while focusing in the 1500, has raced varying distances to help build both strength and finishing speed. The results have included four USATF national titles, and winning silver at World Athletics Indoor World Championships in the 1500 in February.

With 300 meters left and sitting in fourth, Hiltz matched the acceleration of St. Pierre and Mackay and set herself up for final stretch drive. They pulled outside and then powered the rest of the way with their trademark smile beaming across the finish line.

Not only did Hiltz break a U.S. Trials record, their winning time is also 5th fastest performance in the world in the 2024 outdoor season as the countdown begins toward when the Olympic women’s 1500 heats begin August 6.