The Gazette 2017 Boys' Track and Field Coach of the Year: Erik Stevens, Vista Ridge

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Photo - Erik Stevens, Vista Ridge-The Gazette 2017 Boys' Track and Field Coach of the Year.
Erik Stevens, Vista Ridge-The Gazette 2017 Boys' Track and Field Coach of the Year.

For Erik Stevens, coaching Division I athletes, as he did not long ago at UCLA, and high school athletes in Colorado didn't require any changes in philosophy.

"I didn't change anything," said Stevens, who just concluded his first season at the helm of the Vista Ridge boys' track and field program and leading it to the 4A team title - the second in school history. "The big piece of the puzzle I like to talk about is being prepared, to be ready to make any type of adjustment that you need to make in any situation."

Perhaps the biggest adjustment for everyone in Lakewood was the meet's reduction from three days from two, thanks to inclement weather that delayed the event's start by 48 hours.

"That was a pretty big adjustment to have to make," said Stevens, who has his bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona. "They made things happen. As I said all along, if you do your job, things should come out. They did their jobs and made me look good."

Stevens came to Vista Ridge not quite one year ago following two seasons at Erie. Previously, he spent two seasons as an assistant at UCLA, overseeing the program's cross country, distance and middle-distance programs. He started his career at Arapahoe, where he coached cross country and track from 2006-12.

With another title in the trophy case, the focus now is on defending it. Vista Ridge had waited four years to return to track's mountaintop.

"By winning one, I think we've already completed the first step," Stevens said. "We have a good crew coming back, and the pieces are starting to come together. We know it's not going to be easy, but the kids really want to do this again next year."