On a colorful Saturday afternoon at Garry Berry Stadium, Palmer sophomore Marlee Brown looked at the obstacle in front of her, 30 inches in height, and then peeked to her left at Falcon's Hanna Felice.
The final 20 meters of the girls' 300 hurdles had become a tall order for Brown, who narrowly fell to second place in each of her past two meets.
But this was just one more obstacle to clear. And a dozen days before the state championships, Brown effortlessly propelled herself over the final hurdle and ducked past Felice at the Spartan Invitation to claim the victory by 0.06 seconds, clocking in at 46.43 seconds - good for 5A's 10th-fastest time of the year.
"I was tired of losing at the end, like I had in the past two meets," said Brown, who finished second at the Liberty Bell Invitational and the Ray Campbell Invitational. "There's no way I was going to let that happen again. I just needed to concentrate on the training that got me here."
Not just with her high school training either, but with her living room races when she was a toddler. Back then she'd try to compete with her older brother Trevor. Rules of the race: First one to clear all the couch cushions and touch the opposite living room wall wins.
Sometimes, she'd fall trying to keep up with him.
"If they fell, at least they wouldn't get hurt," snickered her father Harold, who is in his second year as Palmer's hurdler coach.
Trevor Brown went on to win the 300-meter hurdles in 2010 at Wasson and is ranked 11th in the nation in the 400-meter hurdles as a senior at Colorado State. Back at home, Marlee, meanwhile, is still trying to catch up to her brother, hoping to share his success in what has become a family tradition in the Brown household.
"She is getting there," Harold said. "She has some technique things to get better at, but she has great coaches helping her, coaches who are a lot more proven than me."
Palmer's girls' team finished fifth as a team, tied with Colorado Springs Christian School with 50 points. Fountain-Fort Carson senior Octavia McFadden competed for the first time in 2?weeks following a leg injury and led the Trojans to the win with 134 points after she won the 100- and 200-meter runs, and helped the Trojans to 400- and 800-relay wins.
The Trojans were followed by Green Mountain (82), Rampart (81) and Doherty (62).
On the boys' side of the hurdles, Travis Gordon also grabbed a win for Palmer after finishing the 110 hurdles in 14.89, which was good for the fifth-fastest time in 5A.
The Browns have been a big part of his success too.
"I owe a lot of my success to Trevor (Brown)," said Gordon, who was a freshman at Wasson when Brown won his state title as a senior. "He helped me get into the sport, and always made sure I'd never get too down on myself. He was like my big brother."