Perseverance, love of competition set track athletes apart

Nugent, Hall, Sprout honored for high school achievements

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Valor Christian’s Anna Hall and Drake Nugent of Highlands Ranch finished their high school track and field careers with rewarding seasons. Cole Sprout of Valor Christian lived up to expectations.

Hall was named the 2019 Colorado Community Media South Metro Girls Track Athlete of the Year while Nugent and Sprout were co-winners of the boys Track Athlete of the Year award.

An ankle injury kept Hall out of action for more than five weeks before the May 16-18 state meet, but she recovered in time to win two individual events and run on two state champion record-setting relays.

Hall, a senior headed for the University of Georgia who set a national pentathlon record with 4,302 points in February, won the 100-meter hurdles (14.18) and the 300 hurdles (41.70) to give her seven individual career 4A and 5A state titles. She also anchored two record-setting relay teams, 1:37.00 in the 4x200 and meet record in the 4x400.

“If I could pick a word for my season it would probably be perseverance” said Hall. “I overcame a lot just to just being able to run at the state meet. We all had to step up our game this year in 5A and I’m really proud of all of us for rising to the occasion. There are some events in 4A that are a little bit stronger and then there are some events in 5A that are stronger. But overall 5A has a lot more depth.”

Valor coach Brian Kula expects more from Hall.

“She has a bright future,” said Kula. “She has all the tools and the right work ethic. She has the opportunity to do something special overall in track and field.”

Nugent, a lineman who will be playing football at Stanford, won his third consecutive 5A state shot put championship with a throw of 56-02.76 coming off an injury-plagued senior football season.

“This year was my biggest competition,” he said. “I knew the Valor kid (discus champion Cian Quiroga) was a spinner, and spinners usually have to get everything right with their technique to throw that far. A 62-feet throw is impressive. I didn’t know if he was going to hit that again.

“Part of me feels kind of lucky that he wasn’t on. I also worked pretty hard for it. I didn’t throw as far as I would have liked but it was good enough. This title meant the most just because my sophomore year no one was that impressive. Last year I threw like 55 feet and won by like 5 feet. This year I knew I had the competition.”

As it turned out, Highlands Ranch coach Lou Krauss feels the competition might have helped Nugent.

“Drake has tremendous work ethic,” said Krauss. “He has grown in strength and technique due to his efforts in the weight room and the practice field. He is almost OCD when it comes to attention to detail. He is the ultimate competitor. He looks forward to being challenged and going against the best whether it is football or throwing.”

Sprout , a junior, set a Colorado prep 3,200 record of 9:01.53 this spring, won the 1,500 run at the Class 5A state track meet in 9:11.84 and also won the 1,600 in 4:13.78. He won both events in 2018 at the 4A state track meet and is a two-time state individual state cross country champion.

“A lot of people expected me to win,” said Sprout. “I’ve learned to block out the pressure the best I can. I love to compete.”

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