Published: March 22, 2014
PUEBLO - Three years ago, when she joined the track and field team at Harrison, Alyssa Evans joined forces with friends De'Ajiah Paulk and Jalynn Guy in hopes of starting something big.
Now seniors, the trio has transformed a team from also-rans into state contenders in the sprint relays.
On Saturday at the Centennial Invitational at Dutch Clark Stadium, the foursome - which includes junior Ashley Register - set a meet record in winning the 800 sprint relay and tied another mark in the 400 meter medley.
The team nearly won a third event in the 800 relay but fell by a mere 0.19 seconds to Sand Creek.
"Our team has worked hard since our freshman year, building up to now," Evans said. "We've built a name for ourselves. The hard work is paying off. But this year, it's going to be different."
Evans is alluding to the 2013 state championships at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood. The Panthers were barely beaten by Lewis-Palmer in the 800 sprint relay, clocking a time ranked sixth in the nation. Later, Harrison placed fourth in the 400 and 800 relays.
"It's not often that you have that kind of time, and you still get second," Panthers coach Al Melo said. "The same four are back from last year, and it was a great day to see them compete. I think their times are a little ahead of where they were at this time last year."
By winning twice early in the day Saturday, the Harrison sprint relay team - all four run in all three events - started a trend among Pikes Peak region squads. By the end of the day that turned cloudy and quite blustery, a number of individual runners found themselves two-event winners.
In girls' events, Mariah Walker of Sand Creek, the defending 4A state champion in the shot put, won that event, plus the discus, both with meet-record distances. Later, Pine Creek's Amelia Harvey took first in the long jump and triple jump, while Palmer sophomore Marlee Brown conquered the hurdles, crossing the finish line in both the 100 and 300 races.
On the boys' side, Palmer Ridge claimed first in the 800 and 1,600 relays, while Widefield senior Kyree Goodman won individual honors in the 110 hurdles and triple jump.
Looking ahead, Evans views her friendships with a higher regard than anything that happens on the track. But winning is nice, too.
"I think being on a team, it brings you together," Evans said. "Of course, we want to lower our best times and win at state, but we're friends in more than just sports. We're friends outside of sports and school, and that helps us get through anything."