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Maya Evans and Drake Nugent both were unnoticeable early in the season but came on strong during the state track championships in May at Jefferson County Stadium.
Evans, a junior at Lutheran, didn’t become eligible until midway through the season after transferring from Vista Peak. Nugent, a touted sophomore football player at Highlands Ranch, showed immense improvement during the season.
At the state meet, Evans won three individual events, ran a leg on a state title relay team and set two Class 3A meet records. Nugent captured the Class 5A shot put title.
Evans has been selected as the 2017 Colorado Community Media Girls South Metro Track Athlete of the Year while Nugent is the Boys Track Athlete of the Year.
“Being out a big portion of the year, I trained harder in the off season but my times weren’t there,” explained Evans. “Then I was getting back to where I needed to be from last year and my freshman year. I had a lot of support from Lutheran High School. They pushed me a lot. Sometimes I would want to stop doing things and they told me, `Maya you’ve got to push yourself.’
“I was very excited about the state meet. I wanted to do better at the state meet than other meets. When I hear people say my name or ‘go Maya’, I get positive and put it all out on the track.”
Evans won the 100-meter dash in 11.83 and the 200 meters in 24.35. She set a class record with a winning effort of 19-05.25 in the long jump and ran the third leg of the Lions’ 4x100 championship relay team, which set a 3A record of 48.95.
Nugent, the Continental League champion, won the shot put on his final throw of 51-10.50
“He improved almost 12 feet from his freshman to sophomore year to win state on his fourth and final throw,” said co-coach John Padjen. “He is an extremely positive, hard-working athlete with great focus and desire to improve each week. He broke through the 50-foot mark at the Highlands Ranch Invitational May 6 and increased another foot two weeks later at the state meet.”
Improvement provided Nugent with motivation.
“At the start of the year my main goal was just to make it to state,” said Nugent. “A couple weeks into the season I made one throw at practice and it went five feet farther than all the other ones. I asked myself: What did I do on that throw?
“I used my hips a lot more. Last year I tried to muscle it and my form was all messed up.”
Nugent won the Continental League crown with a 52-5.00 throw.
“Going into the last throw at state I was fourth and I knew I had a chance because nobody was really throwing that far and no one was like hitting their PRs (personal records),” he related. “So I thought if I could hit my PR or come close to it I could have a good chance of winning. I was pretty close but didn’t hit my PR. I didn’t hear them say the marking number but my coaches were happy after the final throw.”
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