Sprinter Ereana McCallister has the kind of burst that Harrison track and field coach Al Melo wouldn’t mind seeing come off the edge for his football team, and McCallister is no stranger to the male-dominated sport.
She grew up playing with her brother and his friends in Florida, eventually playing in a city league before joining the Newman High School football team as a freshman when her family moved to the Dallas area.
Unfortunately for Melo, McCallister’s football days stayed in Texas when she moved north midway through her freshman year.
“I talked to her coach in Texas once. He said, ‘Man, she’s a really good D-lineman. You should get her out,’” Melo recalled.
“I haven’t had any luck so far.”
Melo lost out to McCallister’s friends who convinced her to give volleyball a shot.
It’s on the track, however, where the junior is at her best.
At last week's Don Osse Lakewood Tiger Invitational, McCallister won the 100-meter dash with a personal best of 12.37 seconds and ran the opening leg for the Panthers’ victorious 4x100, 4x200 and sprint medley relays to earn the Gazette Preps Peak Performer of the Week.
“I was feeling good that day,” McCallister said. “That was one of the best days I even ran since I started running in high school. It was an accomplishment, a big one.”
Harrison finished third in the team standings behind Regis Jesuit and Lakewood.
While it might seem logical to have McCallister anchor the shorter relays, her coach has good reason for giving her the baton to start.
“She’s the best we have out of blocks,” Melo said. “She gets out of blocks real well, and she knows how to attack a curve. She runs that so well. The biggest thing is, we know with her, we’re going to have that consistency right away on each of our relays.”
The junior credited football for developing the toughness - both physical and mental - that allows her to push through the tough track workouts and build speed.
“That’s where my tough mentality comes from,” she said, “because hanging around with a lot of boys you have to have thick skin, and you have to learn how to do the things they do, hard workouts and stuff.”
It’s already paid off.
McCallister was a part of Harrison’s state championship 4x200 relay a year ago, a group that returns all four legs and cut more than 10 seconds from the 2017 state time in Lakewood. She also placed 11th in the individual 200 and helped the 4x100 finish third and the medley relay finish ninth, a solid haul for a first-timer at the state meet.
“It’s like another meet except for more people, that’s it,” McCallister said.
“It was kinda easy for me to process it all.”
Her time Thursday is the best 100 in the 4A ranks, Melo said, and she’s still got room to get faster.
“She’s really learning,” the Harrison coach said. “She’s getting much better in her block work. Her top end speed is getting better. She’s done so well, but we’re really just scratching the surface.”
She’s considering adding an indoor season next winter in hopes of eventually earning an opportunity to run in college. While Melo has one more year to get McCallister in pads, her attention appears to be firmly on the track, with good reason.
Other Peak Performers
Riley Cornelio, Pine Creek
The Eagles junior had quite a week in a pair of wins over Rampart. Cornelio went 1 for 3 with a run scored on Tuesday before tossing a five-inning one-hitter against the Rams on Thursday, when he also went 3 for 3 at the plate with a double, triple, home run and three RBIs.
Kenzie Fontana, The Classical Academy
Fontana led the Titans to the program’s first tournament win last Monday at Canon City’s Four Mile Ranch Golf Course. Fontana, also a Rampart lacrosse player, shot an 87, which put her in a tie for third place.
Garrett Ziegler, Lewis-Palmer
The Ranger senior played a huge part in a 14-2 win over Bear Creek last week. Ziegler scored three times, pushing his team-leading total to 26 through seven games, and added five assists, as Lewis-Palmer improved to 3-4.
Aspen Reed, Palmer
Reed, a senior, kept the Terrors competitive against Rampart, scoring three goals in a 9-5 loss before leading the Terrors to their first win of the season on Friday. Reed scored twice in a 6-2 win over Durango. She has 11 goals on the season.
Kayla Glaser, Palmer Ridge
The senior keeper came up big for the Bears in the program’s first win over Cheyenne Mountain. Glaser made eight saves and kept the Indians out of goal in a 2-0 win. Earlier in the week, Palmer Ridge downed Falcon, 4-1.
Boys’ swimming and diving
Logan Seward, Coronado
Seward helped the Cougars remain unbeaten in Colorado Springs Metro League duel action in Wednesday’s win over Doherty. The senior won the 100-yard freestyle in 56.16 seconds, took third in the 50 freestyle and helped the Cougars sweep the relay events.
Grace Qiu, Rampart
Qiu, a senior, won both of her No. 2 singles matches last week as the Rams improved to 4-3 in duel action behind a pair of 4-3 wins. In Tuesday’s match against Fountain-Fort Carson, Qiu won 6-3, 6-1 before beating Liberty’s No. 2 6-1, 6-3 on Thursday.
Boys’ track and field
Jayden Omi, Manitou Springs
The junior sprinter was responsible for most of the Mustangs’ points at the Don Osse Lakewood Tiger Invitational. Omi finished second in the 100-meter dash, running an 11.16 seconds before narrowly winning the 200 in 22.68.
Girls’ track and field
Rachel Ingram, Colorado Springs Christian School
Racing against a field of competitors mostly from schools in bigger classifications, Ingram placed sixth in the 3,200 meters at the Pomona Invitational on Saturday. The junior, also a standout in cross country and basketball for the Lions, finished in 12 minutes, 1.79 seconds.