DENVER — The Mullen Runners Roost Invitational has long been deemed one of Colorado’s finest track meets.
So when an athlete wins two events and places second in another, it’s noteworthy. But when that competitor is only a freshman, brand new to the high school track world, it’s rather remarkable.
Maya Evans, a sprinter and jumper for the Vista Peak Bison, a Class 4A school in Aurora, displayed her extreme talents Saturday with victories in the 100-meter dash (12.26), long jump (18-3.75), and a runner-up finish in the 200-meter dash.
Maybe more remarkable is that Evans’ long jump mark wasn’t even a personal best. She went 19-3.5 at the Runners Roost of Fort Collins meet on March 21, currently the fourth best mark of any freshman in America during the outdoor track season.
Evans also leaped a ridiculous 19-4.25 in an indoor meet in January. Only three other Colorado girls — in any classification — have cleared 18-0 this season and Evans is the only one in the 19’s.
The freshman placed first at Mullen by a wide margin over Thompson Valley’s Ali Artzberger (16-8.50). The Vista Peak superstar also had a personal best in the 100, quite a day for a girl who just got her feet wet to high school track.
Evans’ jumps coach, Myka Greene, wasn’t the least bit surprised by her performance, though.
“I know there are a lot of people who want an athlete like her,” Greene said. “She’s really a great athlete and a real coachable one.
“I’m pretty confident that she can jump 20s at state,” Greene added. “In the 100, I believe she can run 12.00. In the 200, I believe she can get to at least 24.4. Her training that she’s doing, she’s getting there.”
For now, Evans is focused on the process.
“My goal is to drop my times more and jump further in long jump,” the freshman phenom said.
At an invitational the caliber of Mullen, Evans was certainly not the only one to impress.
Mountain View’s Riley Cooney, a senior and University of Kansas signee, won a distance double with the 1,600 and 800 crowns over stacked fields.
In her first event, the 1,600, Cooney tamed the field with a wire-to-wire victory in a time of 5:02.
In the 800, another win was far from a done deal as Thompson Valley’s Emily Leidig, a cross-town rival of Cooney’s in Loveland, broke off for a large lead on the second lap. Cooney, who was in second place, appeared out of contention with 100 meters left. But the senior had a furious finish to catch Leidig with five meters remaining, winning in 2:14 as Leidig ran 2:15.
“I thought maybe I had a shot at it, but it was a pretty big gap. I tried and I guess I got it,” Cooney said with a smile.
“I haven’t had a super awesome meet here in the past, so I just wanted to have my last one be a good one,” she added. “I hadn’t run an 800 that was I satisfied with this season. I needed that race today.
"In the mile, I just wanted to get out and take control and run my race. I’m happy with it.”
Monarch super sophomore Isaac Green, one of the best freshman distance runners in the nation a season ago, claimed a thrilling come-from-behind 1,600 meter race over Chaparral’s Dominic Compoz, who led throughout.
Regis Jesuit’s Javan Lanier won both the 100 and 200-meter dashes.