To characterize Mesa Ridge's Janise Everett as a natural talent would be doing her a disservice.
She’s been a good runner since she started as a third-grader. Everett remembers wanting to put a medal around her neck, so she could “gloat a little bit,” she says. But as she grew up and continued to pursue track, the Mesa Ridge junior realized she wanted more than to simply beat a few classmates.
She wanted to be great.
So she took that natural talent and applied herself.
Since then, Everett has blossomed into an elite runner. And this year she claimed victories in the 200-meter 4A state title, and as part of the 4A 4x400 relay team.
“There’s the cliche of a talented athlete that doesn’t work hard,” her coach James De Rubis said. “That’s not Janise. She sets a good tone for the rest of the team. She will work harder than anyone else on the track. That’s what it takes to become an elite runner in Colorado.”
That little girl who wanted a medal is still there, though. You don’t win races if you aren’t competitive, and Everett is. But beating the people around her is only part of that. Now, she competes with herself, too.
“Even if I hit a PR, but it’s not the goal I had in mind, I’m still upset,” she said. “If that happens, it was a good race, but it could have been a great race.”
There’s a fine line between being upset about a result and letting that result control you. De Rubis says that is the biggest change he saw in Everett from her sophomore season to her junior year.
“There’s a maturity level she’s brought this season,” he said. “Last year, if she had a bad race, she would come back pretty upset, crying and didn’t know how to cope.”
De Rubis saw that growth when Mesa Ridge competed in a meet at Harrison High School this season. Everett stumbled out of the blocks, but remained composed and was able to nearly win the race, despite the start.
“Last year’s Janise would have been in tears,” De Rubis said. “She would have been really upset. But she took it for what it was, a learning experience.”
That’s how Everett views the sport these days. Every race, every run, every practice is a chance to get better. This season she focused on improving her form and focusing her mindset.
A big part of her training was running with boys who are faster than her.
“I’m always behind, so it’s really about focusing on yourself and not worrying about the people in front of you,” she said. “Instead it’s about how you’re running, how you’re breathing. It’s all about you instead of who is around you.”
Everett already has plenty of accolades to her name. But as she learns to walk the line between competing with herself and competing with others, the junior has another goal in mind for next season.
She wants to break school records and get her name up on Mesa Ridge’s board for the 100, 200 and maybe even the 400.
“My brothers came here before me and they are on the record board,” she said. “I want to be up there. That would be amazing. That would make me so happy.”
Seeing the name “Janise Everett” on the record board wouldn’t surprise De Rubis, or Everett’s sprint coach, Erik Huffman.
Huffman spends a lot of time setting goals with Everett, and just like everything else, she’s committed to getting better at that too.
“Last year when she’d set a goal she wanted to meet them immediately," Huffman said. "Now she understands the process. She’s reflective, and she can tell me what went wrong and what went right.”
These days, there’s a lot more that goes right, than wrong. But Everett devotes equal attention to both sides. It’s how she’s gotten so good at what she does, how she continues to improve, and why De Rubis is almost positive she will be setting Mesa Ridge records next season.
“She’s already very close,” he said. “She’s working really hard. She hasn’t taken any time off. She’s already doing club track. She’s already training to break those records.”
First Team All-Area performers:
Bethany Michalak, Air Academy
Jaysa Even, Banning Lewis Academy
Elle Stevens, CSCS
Isabel Case, CSCS
Victoria Sanders, Discovery Canyon
Aileen Gutierrez-Hermosillo, Ellicott
Isabella Coscetti, Manitou Springs
Janise Everett, Mesa Ridge
Eowyn Dalbec, Peyton
Anna Willis, The Classical Academy
Second Team All-Area:
Adelyn Cartier, CSCS
Addison Miller, CSCS
Lauren McDowell, Discovery Canyon
Teyshia Tacoronte, Ellicott
Hope Callan, Liberty
Danaya Kinnard, Mesa Ridge
Olivia Clay, Mesa Ridge
Rimari Facey, Mesa Ridge
GiGi German, Palmer Ridge
Hannah Turpin, St. Mary’s