Sometimes, all of us experience a moment when life comes full circle. This was true for Primero’s high school track coach and track team alumni Mike Duran, who helped two of the school district’s distance runners achieve a successful conclusion of their track season at the Colorado State Track Meet.
For Duran, returning to Primero as the high school track coach has been fulfilling on many levels. “I want to share my knowledge of track with the athletes that come out. Primero is where I began my running career, which led me to a track scholarship in college. I was state champ in the one mile and two mile runs my junior and senior years at Primero.” This experience has allowed Duran to more effectively coach the athletes, because he understands firsthand the challenges these athletes face.
Thanks to bond measures passed by the community, Duran has another advantage as a track coach: “We have the best track facilities in the area. It is nice being able to run workouts in lanes. If it rains or snows, most of the time we can run on the track soon after.”
This was Duran’s second year coaching track at Primero, and his first year with team members who qualified for State. “Over the past two years, I have seen that the students have bought in to what I expect them to do,” explains Duran. “Last year we started to build the program, and this year we just built on top of that. The kids know that they need to start where they left off last year and build from there. The goal I have for Primero’s track program is to keep building every year and make it a top-notch program that students want to be part of. Last year we had thirteen athletes and this year we had nineteen, so hopefully next year we will have even more. I hope we will have enough athletes that we can start running more relays. I know we are a small school district, and hopefully through successful programs like track we will get more athletes to come to Primero. I want to be able to get the best out of them and make them state contenders.”
Two of Duran’s top distance runners qualified for state this year: juniors DJ Robinson and Alysia Baca. At the state track meet at the Jefferson County Stadium in Lakewood on May 20 and 21, Baca ran a 2:36.13 in the 800 meter, securing an eighth place finish. She ran a 5:59.65 in the 1600 meter, placing eighth overall as well. Baca’s best performance at state was in the 3200 meter event, where she ran a 13:13.70, shaving twenty-four seconds off her previous personal record (PR) and earning a seventh place medal. Robinson also secured a medal at the state track meet, running 5:05 in the 1600 meter race, earning a ninth place finish.
Both Baca and Robinson made great gains in their respective times over the course of the track season. Baca improved her time in the 3200 from a 14:05.14 to 13:13.70. In the 1600 meter run, she improved her time from a 6:25.44 to 5:59.65; and in the 800 meter, she improved her time from a 2:51.96 to 2:36.13. Robinson had similar success, improving his 1600 meter time from a 5:29.85 to 5:01.35.
For Duran, watching his runners experience success was the perfect end to a great track season. “They were both very excited with their performances at state. I told them they could be in the top nine; we had a game plan, and they delivered. For the first time for both of them at state, they did a great job. Alysia placed in all three events she was entered in, and DJ placed in his for the first time at state. As a coach, you want the best for your athletes. I explained how state was and how they had to get out and not get boxed in or trapped during their races. They both did a good job getting out and running with the pack. They both worked very hard in practice, and it paid off for the both of them.”