Fountain-Fort Carson track and field changes it up, takes first at Doherty Spartan Invitational

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Photo - Fountain-Fort Carson's Jequan Hogan, left, beats Liberty's Andrew Doctor to the finish to win the 110-meter hurdles Saturday, May 6, 2017, during the Doherty Spartan Invitational at Garry Berry Stadium in Colorado Springs. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Fountain-Fort Carson's Jequan Hogan, left, beats Liberty's Andrew Doctor to the finish to win the 110-meter hurdles Saturday, May 6, 2017, during the Doherty Spartan Invitational at Garry Berry Stadium in Colorado Springs. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Fountain-Fort Carson junior Jalen Lyon trusted his coaches when they yanked him out of the high jump, one of his best events, and threw him into the 400, an event he hadn't tried in two years.

A case of 'just see what happens' turned into 'did you just see what happened?'

Powering down the stretch in a race he'd only tried once before in high school, Lyon nicked Air Academy's Nik Chappee in a photo finish on Saturday at the Doherty Spartan Invitational at Garry Berry Stadium.

His time of 48.571 seconds was good enough to hold off Chappee (48.579), the 4A state favorite in the event. It was also the second-fastest mark in 5A this year.

The move will likely be a permanent one.

"Me and (sprinting) coach (Keith Smith) made a deal that if I was able to run a sub-48 or 49, then I'd drop high jump to run the 400," said Lyon, who ranks second in 5A in both of those events. "I may have to because we don't have any 400 points right now (for state)."

Fountain-Fort Carson, seemingly pulling out all the stops at the right time, won the 29-team invite with a score of 118.

Jequan Hogan won four events and broke two meet records for the Trojans, and Donovan Williams added a win in the 100 (10.72) and broke another meet record in the 200 (21.51).

The Trojans, who own four state titles in the past seven years, will be contenders once again at state after finishing second in 2016.

"Our goal this year is basically redemption," Williams said. "Nobody really liked that, so we kind of want to win it this year."

Fountain-Fort Carson certainly is a powerhouse of a different variety.

With enrollment numbers in the lower half of 5A and transfer rates shifting due to the school's military grounding, the Trojans have never been able to coast on talent alone.

Lyon's move on Saturday was telling. Rooted in a philosophy built on constantly helping athletes break mental and physical limitations, the Trojans, as a program, will always look to exceed expectations.

"I don't know what we'd be without these coaches," Williams said. "It's only because of them and how they push us. I feel like if we were to get rid of those coaches it would suck. They get on us, push us, and we want to come out and make them look good."

The program's trajectory was hazy a year ago. Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 asked coaches at the school to reapply for their jobs as part of an administration shakeup at the hands of newly appointed superintendent Keith Owen. But coach Ben Montoya and his staff stayed.

Montoya, for one, hopes it's for the long haul.

"I will stay there and coach as long as everybody is happy with me and the administration is happy with me," Montoya said. "I'll stay there and coach there as long as I possibly can."