Making the jump: Moffat County hurdler Jared Atkin signs for Western Colorado track
The life of a hurdler is all about getting past obstacles on the path to success, which sums up Moffat County High School senior Jared Atkin’s athletic career to a tee.
On Monday, Jared became the second Bulldog student-athlete in as many weeks to sign a letter of intent to compete for Western Colorado University, with plans to run track for the Mountaineers.
He will specialize in the hurdles, as well as possibly running relays for the program.
“I’ll probably be doing the 4×400, some of the longer sprint races,” he said. “They have a really good coach, and the head coach is actually the hurdles coach, so I think she’ll help me do really good at the next level.”
Besides the higher level of competition, college hurdles will be a little more challenging at 42 inches compared to the 39 utilized at the high school tier. But, it’s that mix of speed and jumping that make it worth the effort.
“With hurdles, it’s more fun than just running in a straight line, you’ve gotta get over obstacles,” he said.
Jared has been spending much of the winter in training for Bulldog track and field. Using the third floor at MCHS to work on his technique during the colder months, he’s also frequented college-hosted indoor track events, including winning a 60-meter hurdle race and making it to the 60 dash finals during the Western High School Open Feb. 9 in Gunnison.
“He’s done a lot of great things over the last three-and-a-half years to get ready for this opportunity,” MCHS head track coach Todd Trapp said to the crowd gathered Monday in the second floor commons. “He’s put a lot of his own time learning about the event and becoming dedicated to track and field.”
Jared said running for Western seemed like a good prospect as a school close to home and not too different from where he’s grown up.
“It’s a really nice college town, about the same size as Craig, which I like. Less distractions,” he said.
He plans to study exercise and sports science with the goal of getting a master’s degree within five years and becoming a physician assistant.
Jared’s father, Lee, said he expects his son will bring the same traits to college sports as he has in high school.
“Hard work, determination,” Lee said. “He’s a good kid.”
In his junior year, Jared went to the state championships in the maximum four events, placing alongside Victor Silva, Miki Klimper and Elias Peroulis at sixth in the 4×200 relay and seventh in the 4×400, the foursome also taking a league title in the 4×200.
After placing third in the 300 hurdles and fourth in the 110 at the league event, Jared wound up 12th in the 110 at state while also enduring frustration in the 300 when he had a false start that disqualified him from the finals.
“I’ve had that false start in my mind this whole off-season,” he said.
He’s had several setbacks while in sports, notably in football. After a great first game to start his junior season, an injury sustained during practice kept him off the gridiron for the rest of the fall. Though ready to get back into the game as a senior, he broke his wrist during football camp last summer.
Still, he didn’t remain sedentary — he took up cross country as a junior to stay in shape, and though he didn’t compete with the long-distance runners this fall, he worked with the team in a managerial function.
After preparing himself physically in one way or another the last several months, Jared expects his senior season of track will be his best yet.
“I’m coming back stronger,” he said.
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