Moffat County’s Alayna Behrman overcomes hurdles on her way to bright future
For Craig Press
During the coronavirus pandemic, people around the world were faced with all kinds of obstacles, and while Moffat County High School senior Alayna Behrman wouldn’t claim to have it worse than anyone else, she certainly had her own struggles in the past year.
But, if anyone knows how to get over something in their way, it’s a hurdler.
Behrman is the salutatorian for the Class of 2021, with a solid grade point average signifying her achievements as a student-athlete who’s bound for collegiate academics and sports.
Behrman signed her letter of intent in February to compete in cross country and track and field for Kansas Wesleyan University.
Behrman said the running personnel at KWU had reached out to her about joining them, and after a tour of the campus, she was convinced it was a good fit for her.
“He’s been talking to me a lot about 400 hurdles and jumping and relays,” Behrman said of her future coach. “He’s been transitioning me to more of a middle-distance runner. There are more specialized coaches, but middle-distance running and cross country are coached by the same guy.”
Behrman said that while she is “not super-religious” she’s looking forward to attending the private Christian school.
“I think it’s going to be a good change. I’m glad to learn and get out of my comfort zone and run with new people,” she said. “I’m not the most social person, but I’m excited to see how far I can really take it. I think in high school you can only go so far, so coaches with a ton of expertise, like where I’m going to, it’ll be really good for me.”
Behrman rose up the ranks of the cross country program, competing with the girls team at the state championships her junior and senior seasons, while with track and field she narrowly made it to state as a sophomore.
“I squeezed in there in the triple jump. I was seeded 20th, and two people dropped out, so I got to go. I started 18th and wound up placing 10th, so I was happy,” she said.
Behrman was hoping to return to state as a junior, only for COVID to completely cancel high school spring sports in 2020. Though Bulldog distance runners were able to get back at it in the fall, preparing for her senior track season — which will stretch past MCHS graduation in a reconfigured schedule — has been unusual to say the least.
“It’s a weird transition, especially not competing for a year,” she said. “We were all training on our own and hoping that the season would get back, and we worked on it before we all just switched to cross country since track was canceled.”
Missing track last year was one thing, but no sooner had cross country gotten back in gear did Behrman find herself struggling physically.
She was feeling light-headed and weak and despite increasing her output, her running times were not up to her standard.
“The whole summer I was comfortably running fast paces, and then we got to the season and I had depleted myself so much that I just dropped,” Behrman said. “I was so exhausted all the time. I was running and doing everything I could, but I had brittle nails and weak hair and just felt sick all the time.”
Finally, she received a medical diagnosis of an iron deficiency.
“I was extremely deficient, the doctor said it was the lowest she’d ever seen,” she said. “It takes months to build it back up, but I’m feeling much better now. I’m still struggling with that as we speak and I’ve been taking my iron religiously, but that definitely threw a wrench into things.”
MCHS track coach Kip Hafey, who specializes in jumping events, noted a determination in Behrman that has played into her work setting goals academically and athletically.
“Reaching these milestones demand consistent academic focus and commitment that is not without difficult choices and sacrifice,” Hafey said. “I am honored to have had the opportunity to teach and coach Alayna. She always has been steadfast in her desire to lead others by setting a strong example with her effort and intensity both in the classroom and on the field of competition.”
Besides sports, Behrman has also been a strong singer at MCHS, often posting online vocal showcases on social media with fellow overachiever Alexa Neton.
She said she plans to keep music in her life in college.
“I won’t have a lot of time, but I’m going to try and do at least one choir class, because it’s important to me,” she said.
At Kansas Wesleyan, Behrman will be more focused on a major in biology and minor in psychology with an overall goal of going to medical school.
“I’ve always enjoyed science, and I feel like it’s the best way I can make an impact. I like that no day will ever be the same,” she said.
The difficulties of maintaining consistency with education during COVID affected students differently, though Behrman said she had few problems with remote learning.
“I did totally fine and was always able to get my work done in like an hour. It gave me a lot of time to actually sit with everything,” she said.
Behrman has preferred to look at life during the pandemic as a period of self-reflection, one in which she was able to better decide what her plans would be after high school.
“Every other thing doesn’t seem like it’s for me, but this has always seemed like it was,” she said. “This COVID thing just reaffirmed it. I definitely had time to evaluate my priorities and let the universe take charge, so this is where I’m going.”
Between COVID, her iron deficiency, and the typical workload of a senior year, Behrman said she has taken some important lessons away from the experiences.
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, it’s important to keep trying,” she said.
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Come Jan. 27, Moffat County School District could be looking ahead to a new type of school week.