Las Vegas Sun

July 23, 2019

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Best in preps: Oct. 1 survivor headlines honorees in Southern Nevada high school sports

Nick Campbell

Christopher DeVargas

Nick Campbell

Click to enlarge photo

Nick Campbell, 16, recovers from a gunshot wound at UMC received Sunday night at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017.

Nick Campbell’s track times weren’t great this spring. But that was the least of the Coronado High sophomore sprinter’s worries.

Campbell survived the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Strip, where one of the bullets that rained down on concertgoers ripped through his right shoulder. Two inches to the left and the bullet would have hit his head and likely killed him.

So when Campbell’s time in the 400 meters went from 55.14 seconds in 2017 to 56.53 this spring, he knew it wasn’t the number that mattered. Rather, it’s not being one of the massacre’s 58 casualties.

Simply competing was important, and that’s why Campbell received the Sun Standout Award. It’s reserved for excellence and only awarded in exceptional situations.

“The more and more I run, the better my stamina will get,” he says. “It’s like a balloon. The more you inflate it, the bigger and stronger it gets.”

Campbell was rushed to University Medical Center and immediately treated to save his life. A tube was inserted into his chest to expand his lungs and help with breathing. A few months later, he was playing junior varsity basketball for Coronado. In the spring, he returned to the track team.

Breathing wasn’t easy, especially when running sprints. He could have quit, and teammates wouldn’t have questioned his desire. But that wasn’t an option he considered.

Aside from constantly having to show friends the bullet wound scar on his shoulder and making the occasional appearance on national television to tell his story, Campbell is determined to have a normal high school experience. “I feel I am the same person,” he says. “I still want to be a 16-year-old kid.”

He got shot. He almost died. But he didn’t, and there are plenty more games to compete in. “After a game, sometimes I will think, ‘Wow, I just did all that and I was in the hospital a few months ago,’ ” he says.

This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.