May 17, 2013 Updated: May 17, 2013 at 6:05 pm
LAKEWOOD - Please forgive Rajon O'Quinn if her mind wanders, if it seems she is lost in thought about something else.
She probably is.
Ballet is first and foremost on her mind. Schoolwork, track and field, basketball - these are simply the means to an end.
"If I could do anything, it would be dance," O'Quinn said Friday at the state track and field championships inside Jeffco Stadium.
O'Quinn, a junior at Fountain-Fort Carson, finished second in the Class 5A high jump. Her leap of 5 feet, 7 inches was second to Poudre's Carly Paul, the two-time state champion, who cleared 5-8.
Would O'Quinn have preferred to finish in first? Of course.
Does it matter in the long run? Not really.
Why I'm drawn to the state championships has little to do with the final results. I prefer hearing and learning about the kids' dreams and aspirations, what they want to become in the future.
In first place or in last place, those dreams live to be dreamt another day.
"Sometimes when I tell people I want to major in dance, they laugh," O'Quinn said. "Sometimes they say, 'Why do you want to major in dance in college?'
"I guess it's different. Not a lot of people want that."
Different is good. We like different.
We like different even more when it's backed by a work ethic that makes different happen.
O'Quinn carries a 3.83 GPA. She also plays basketball for the Trojans.
"School is very important to me."
O'Quinn also competed in these championships in 2012. She was knocked out of the high jump when she failed to clear 4-10. That's not very good.
This is very good: A year later, O'Quinn returned to the championships and set a personal record. This is someone who wanted to be better, so she made it happen.
"Compared to last year, this is great," she said.
"I wanted to push myself to a new level," said Paul, Class 5A's best high jumper, who had to reach her goal, 5-8, to hold off O'Quinn.
Given her student resume, O'Quinn shouldn't have a difficult time finding a university to continue her dream. She's received interest from the University of Denver, Colorado-Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy, she said.
"Hopefully I'm able to study dance when I get there."
I don't see why not.
"I like how ballet is graceful. And it's challenging," she said. "Standing on your toes, it's not easy. It's hard work. Some people say it's harder than football.
"But I love it to death."