The 2018 Colorado state track and field meet featured a little bit of everything for recent Fountain-Fort Carson graduate Jalen Lyon – everything but disappointment.
Lyon won gold in all four events he entered and led the Trojans to a third state title in his four years with the program, earning Gazette Preps boys’ track and field Peak Performer of the Year.
“It was crazy to process at first, but then once I processed it all after state, I was a little emotional because it was my last ride in high school, but I was excited,” Lyon said.
“It was amazing.”
Lyon's wins at Jefferson County stadium included individual and relay wins, dramatic finishes and foregone conclusions.
The University of Northern Colorado signee’s status was less than certain heading into state after he tweaked his groin at regionals the week prior, but he was able to compete thanks in part to a compression sleeve he wore around his upper leg and kinesiology tape.
“As long as he was healthy, he should’ve won four gold medals,” Trojan coach Ben Montoya said.
He got to test the injury on the first day of the state meet, qualifying for the finals in the 200 meters, 400 meters and 4x200 relay.
“I went out a little slow,” Lyon recalled, “and then afterwards, I was like ‘You’re fine now.’”
He showcased his health Friday, the second day, in his most dramatic finish.
Lyon got the baton in the finals of the 4x200 relay approximately 10-15 meters behind Cherry Creek’s anchor leg. The Trojan senior caught and passed him down the home stretch and broke the line in 1 minute, 26.53 seconds, more than a tenth of a second ahead of Cherry Creek for his first gold of the weekend.
“I was definitely nervous because I’ve never had to have that big of a gap, especially in a sprint,” Lyon said.
“I didn’t know I could run that fast, and then I caught him. I was like ‘Oh my gosh.’ It’s probably the best thing in my whole entire life – at least in high school track. It was crazy.”
Having not lost in the 200 or 400 as a senior, Lyon entered his two individual races with confidence.
He started the final day of the state meet by winning the 400 by nearly a second in 48.1 before winning the 200 in 21.65.
“I haven’t lost the whole season, so I wasn’t thinking I was going to lose,” Lyon said. “I was kinda nervous, but I’m pretty sure anyone would be nervous at state no matter if you’re going in top dog or not.”
There was no need for nerves in his final high school race, as the Trojans had wrapped up the team title and entered the finals with the top-seeded time in the 4x400 relay by more than three seconds. Lyon teamed with classmates and future UNC teammates Jason Farrell, Deondre Ritter and Phil Thomas to put a bow on the team title and Lyon's special weekend, winning in 3:19.37.
“The fact I grew up with them and I was able to have that last ride of a relay with them, it was sweet,” he said.
As he embarks on his collegiate career, Lyon says he prefers the 200 to the 400 because it huts less, but if his 2018 performance is any indication, the coaches in Greeley could use him in either event.
The Bears are getting more than a gifted runner, according to someone who’s spent four years with Lyon.
“That’s pretty talented,” Montoya said. “And he’s just an extremely great kid, one of those kids anyone would love to have just because of his personality. He’s never a problem. He’s a great leader.”
Lyon certainly led the way in his final state track meet.