LAKEWOOD — Breaking: Competition is still OK.
Thank goodness, and Luc Andrada and Tyrese Vanhorne. They were sent here with turbo-charged legs for a reason: "I love competing. If I’m not competing, it’s not fun," Andrada says.
Good. We need more like 'em. Theirs is a world where second-place ribbons double as Kleenex.
“That guy, if you don’t bring it,” Tyrese tells me Saturday after their three head-to-head cage matches at the state track and field meet inside Jeffco Stadium, “you’re going to get beat.”
Give me these two competitors, plus the neighbor kid mowing lawns, and we’ll beat your Gus Macker team. Or win a $5 Best Ball. Or whatever, you name the game. These guys come alive when there's something on the line.
Don’t you love it? Plus, Luc and Tyrese share almost nothing in common. That's the great part. Luc’s a senior at Pueblo East; Tyrese a junior at Harrison. Luc's a clean freak who laid out his meet-day clothes the night before; Tyrese might mosey to the starting block straight from his dad’s truck. Luc’s a native proudly born and raised in Pueblo; Tyrese moved here from Jamaica when he was 12.
"Miss my beach," he says.
So you guys hate each other’s guts, right?
“Actually, we’re super cool!” Tyrese says. “But when we get on the track ...”
“Out there we’ll exchange some looks,” Luc says later.
Because competition is good. On the final day of state, The Classical Academy girls inched within three points of another team title, thanks to Kaylee Thompson’s emergence as a two-time state champion; Manitou’s Jayden Omi proved modern medicine is a miracle with a pair of sprinting titles, just months after ACL surgery; and Luc and Tyrese competed. Again.
First, the 100 meters. Luc smoked everyone except Tyrese. Luc finished in 10:51 seconds, Tyrese in 10.81. Crossing the line, Luc gave the Mile High salute and flexed. Tyrese just shook his head.
“Always been that type of rivalry, and it’s because of him. He always shows up for the main stage," Luc says. “He doesn’t break 11 (seconds) pretty much all season and he goes 2/10 under 11 at state? Who does that?
"That kid’s something else. He’s always one to be worried about. I thank him for that.”
Next, the 200 meters, and that's where I learned something was up with these two. Andrada ran like one of Colorado's rogue mountains lions was after him. He crushed the field and won another gold, in the 200, in 21.21.
OK, so all three of Luc’s events on championship Saturday ended like that, him in front. But none elicited a reaction out of him like the 200: Tiger fist pumps, primal scream. What gives, dude?
“Last year Tyrese beat me,” he said. “Still bugs me. Always will.”
This seems like a good time to point out Andrada, the star quarterback at Pueblo East, is going on to play football at BYU. And Vanhorne says he's going on to run track at Cincinnati.
Would one guy be a future college athlete without the other? Probably. They’re gifted. But I asked both — who barely share a friendship off the track — what the other did for him.
“When you’ve got someone who you know is going to bring it,” Andrada said, “you better, too.”
“We have mad respect for each other,” Vanhorne said. “I don't know, just always been that way.”
Spend enough time around the state track meet, and everyone knows everyone. May not remember their names, but at least there’s a, “What’s up, dude?” or a “heyyy, how arrre you?”
And real recognizes real — all the way to the final race, maybe ever, between Andrada and Vanhorne. Not long before the Class 4A boys 4X100-meter relay, VanHorne tells me, “This is it.”
This is what?
“My last race.”
Turns out, the Harrison junior is graduating early. At a time he was still learning English, Tyrese took college-level classes starting as a freshman. After classes at UCCS this summer he plans to start at Cincinnati in January.
“Nobody knows, though!” he says.
For these two it could only end like this: Andrada celebrates his sixth state title, counting football, and shoots toward Vanhorne on the infield. They embrace. No tears, just a man hug.
“I told him much respect. I even told him much love,” Andrada said. “You compete that long, it’s much love. Man, we’ve done this for a long time. I remember every one. I remember when Jalen Lyon (of Fountain-Fort Carson) showed up and beat me and Tyrese in the eighth grade.”
Competition is good.