CHEYENNE – Raegen Downham has always been fast, and her first chance to prove how fast she was came in elementary school.
That’s when the Cheyenne South senior first started competing in track.
“I remember getting to the starting line and feeling so excited my stomach was churning,” she said. “When the gun went off, I went as fast as I could. I won all the time, and I really enjoyed it.
“That’s when I first realized I was faster than a lot of people.”
Downham has continued to run at or near the front of the pack.
She finished in a three-way tie for fourth in the 55-meter dash at last year’s Wyoming state indoor track and field meet. She also placed fourth in the 200.
“That 55 was a crazy race,” Downham said with a smile. “I was pretty shocked it ended in a three-way tie. Not just a two-way tie, but a three-way tie.”
As the indoor season starts Saturday, Downham is out to move up the podium. She has a good idea what she needs to do to get there.
“There are some walls I need to push down,” Downham said. “I need to develop some grit and get into that mental state where I am telling myself, ‘I know I can do this.’
“There is a lot of pain that goes into sprinting. I just have to push myself harder and push through the pain. If I can do that, I think (first place) is within reach.”
Bison coach Casey Steele said Downham shouldn’t be counted out.
“Moving into that top 3 is definitely realistic,” he said. “She is deceptively strong for as slender as she is. She has good foot speed and endurance, and great competitive desire,” Steele said.
“She doesn’t like getting beaten by anyone.”
Downham prefers the 200 to the 55.
“The 55 is too short to count for anything,” she said. “If you have one misstep, you can’t really make it up.
“In the 200, you can catch up on people if you make a small mistake that puts some distance between you.”
Downham will miss Saturday’s Natrona Invitational because of a right ankle injury she suffered while playing soccer. Bruised skin peeked out of the
wrap she had on her ankle Tuesday.
Downham has signed a letter of intent to play soccer at NCAA Division II University of Nebraska-Kearney starting this fall. She knows this could be her last track season, but she hasn’t ruled out competing in the sport collegiately.
Both the Lopers women’s soccer and track coaches are open to the idea.
Senior Micheala Hoffman has competed in both sports at UNK.
“She is one of their top sprinters, and she told me it was doable, but I might take a year off from track so I can get used to college soccer and being a college student,” Downham said.
Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.