Widefield tennis player Mariah Boudrieau shows skills on court, race track

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Photo - Widefield tennis player Mariah Boudrieau, pictured Saturday, April 1, 2017, races cars when she isn't playing tennis for her high school team. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Widefield tennis player Mariah Boudrieau, pictured Saturday, April 1, 2017, races cars when she isn't playing tennis for her high school team. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Dana Boudrieau savored the disbelief that poured out of the I-25 Speedway grandstand as his daughter, Mariah, climbed out of her race car after her victory.

Following a dominant performance last summer, Mariah - at "5-foot-21/2 and 95 pounds," Dana says - then removed her helmet to let down her long blond hair.

"They all looked and you could hear them screaming, 'Wow, it's a little girl,'" Dana said. "They couldn't believe it."

It certainly wasn't the first time Mariah found a home out of the ordinary.

The Widefield sophomore, fueled by the same passion for racing as her father, made a name for herself at the race track last year by beating amateur stock car drivers - mostly men - twice and three times her age.

This spring, she's taking that same drive into her second season with the Gladiators' tennis team.

"I'm competitive no matter what I do," Mariah said. "I'm competitive even walking down the street. I have to get there first."

More formally, Mariah races snowmobiles in the winter and stock cars in the summer.

Just this last year, her parents bought her a pink and black 1998 Dodge Neon and turned it into a race car. Now it's green and black with the No. 17 on the side and "Froggy" written on the hood.

With it, Mariah has flourished.

"She's got the mentality and mindset of more of an adult," said Dana, who is also her crew chief. "When she gets in a wreck she doesn't act childish or anything, she just says 'darn it.' Then she gives me a thumbs-up that everything's cool."

Mariah joined the I-25 Speedway's Hornet division in Pueblo over the summer as the field's youngest driver and finished fourth out of about 30 drivers on the end-of-season leader board. In the last two main-event races of the year, she led from start to finish.

She believes her success was noticed.

"I had a lot of people that really didn't like me coming out there (to the track) not even having my driver's license yet," Mariah said. "A lot of them were trying to take me out, trying to get me wrecked or something so they had a chance to win."

Her tennis game requires a shift in gears: tenacious to tactful. But she also believes the two sports cross paths as well - noting the importance of hand-eye coordination, patience and finding the opposition's weakness in both.

After going 8-3 in No. 4 doubles as a freshman she's 1-1 in No. 2 doubles for the Gladiators, a program accustomed to fielding players with limited or no experience on the court.

Longtime Widefield tennis coach Joe Griebel says he now has had as many seasoned club tennis players come through the program as race car drivers.

"We're kind of a blue-collar community," said Griebel, who has been the girls' coach for more than a decade. "Our kids are involved in a lot of things."

Mariah plans on balancing race car practice with tennis the rest of the spring. Her first race is May 6 and the second is the 13th - the final day of the Class 4A state tennis tournament in Pueblo.

If the two should take place on the same day, she's not afraid to show her zip.

"The races aren't until 6 at night," she said. "So if that happens I'll play my game, my dad will have my car ready, and as quickly as possible I'll get to the track."