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Coal Ridge track star signs to Colorado Mesa University

Coal Ridge's Natalie Smythe signs with Colorado Mesa University Track and Field on Tuesday.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Natalie Smythe revealed an awesome dilemma on the day she signed on with Colorado Mesa University Women’s Track and Field.

Throughout her days as a Coal Ridge track star, Smythe, 17, has prospered in both running and field events.

At the Olathe meet this past season, Smythe aided in breaking the school’s 4×400 relay record. Time lapsed: 3 minutes, 56 seconds.



Smythe also won a 3A League event title in triple jump her junior year, securing the feat with a distance of 33 feet and 11.25 inches.

But during her signing event Tuesday inside a Coal Ridge High School basketball court, Smythe said Mavericks coaches can’t decide whether they want her sprinting across rubber or splashing beach.



“I think that was what stuck out about me against all the other people who just do one thing,” she said. “But I think that’s a good problem to have.”

This year’s 4×400 Coal Ridge High School record is Smythe’s ultimate highlight, she said. But that doesn’t keep her from showing interest in becoming a multi-event Division II trackster.

Smythe’s confidence emanates from yet another Coal Ridge track-and-field graduate to endure 2020’s canceled season, then win a team state title to end the 2021 season.

“I always think back to junior year when we won state as a team,” Smythe said. “Because all the girls on that team were so driven and focused, it was a perfect combo.”

“And it was just such a good year, even though it was so short.”

Smythe marks the second Coal Ridge senior trackster to sign to a collegiate program this season. Fellow teammate Peyton Garrison is off to Montana State University next season. Meanwhile, former senior Phoebe Young in 2021 signed on with Saint Martin’s University in Washington, while Marin Simons signed with Weber State University in Utah.

Coal Ridge track coach Ben Kirk credits Smythe’s dedication to hard work and her incomparable competitiveness.

“This year, we basically used her in every event possible, just because she’s super athletic,” he said. “She ran 100s to 800s to 300 hurdles to triple jump. She never has been allowed to really train and focus on anything, and she’s still been great at all of those.”

In coincidental fashion, Colorado Mesa reached out to Smythe the same day she reached out to the program her father, Ryan Smythe, said.

It’s just another example of his daughter putting in the hard work — something she’s done throughout her four years of high school.

“I’m happy that she’s been happy to take part in pretty much anything at school. Sports, the extramural academic stuff, the volunteering — all of that,” he said. “I’m glad she participated.

“That’s all I would have really asked for, is that she tried. And when she did try, she tried hard.”

Ryan said he’s excited to watch his daughter’s first meet competing as a Maverick.

“I’m also excited to see how more coaching would change things just to bring out more of the potential that Kirk was talking about,” he said.

Smythe graduated Saturday with a 3.8 grade point average. She plans to study nursing at Colorado Mesa. She’s interested in the medical field and she likes helping people, she said.

But, for now, she has her sights set on her first collegiate track season, and her summer is going to be occupied by two main tasks.

“I’m going to figure out what I need to do,” she said. “But I’ll work and train.”

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.


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