Hard work, extra hours of practice and driven coaches assisted Alicia Nelson toward a new Moffat County High School 1,600-meter record.
A Bulldog sophomore, Nelson began her MCHS career by clocking a time of 5 minutes, 50 seconds.
After the first day of 4A Western Slope regional competition in Grand Junction, Nelson broke a 10-year school record by finishing in 5:13.32. Christina Moyer set the previous mark of 5:13.43 in 1997.
Eight days later Nelson put more distance between the new MCHS record with a 5:09.41 at the 4A state track and field championships.
Within a year, Nelson improved 41 seconds and jumped 12 spots among the state's best 1,600 runners.
In 2006, her 5:24 earned her a 12th-place finish at state, and this year the 5:09.41 earned her for third-place.
Nelson is a three-sport athlete, representing the Bulldogs in cross country, basketball and track.
"I did a lot of off-season training and doing all three sports keeps me in good shape," she said. "My goal this year was to continue to improve a much as possible. My coaches really pushed me a lot in training. Jen Pressgrove helped a lot. The coaches had faster times we needed to reach at practice, and I think that helped me."
The second of four children to Paul and Anne Nelson, Alicia credits older sister, Angela, for piquing her interest in running.
"I kind of looked up to her," Alicia said of her sibling.
She also credits her grandma, Lowa Shultz, for her physical fitness influence.
Shultz taught physical education at Craig Middle School for 16 years before recently retiring, and has been a big supporter of Alicia.
"I knew she could do it," Shultz said of Alicia's success. "I think she can possibly get the state championship some day. She has a lot of determination and a lot of natural ability."
Nelson said her goal is to complete the 1,600 in less than five minutes by her senior year.