One of the best runners to ever wear the Fort Collins High School name has started a new club.
The fledgling program was created this summer by junior Lauren Gregory, who has six state running titles to her name.
“We have a blade club that everyone thinks is a joke, but it’s legit,” Gregory said.
Blade? Like, Rollerblade?
“This summer I was like, ‘Why not break these out?’” Gregory said, proudly showing off her black ’blades with lime green accents.
Before her family moved from Windsor so the star runner could race at Fort Collins, they used to inline skate around Eastman Park. When she got new skates as a gift last Christmas, it was time to bring it back. “It became sort of a thing.”
When she’s not skating, Gregory’s a phenomenally talented runner who enters Saturday’s state cross country meet at Norris-Penrose Event Center in Colorado Springs as the back-to-back state champion. MileSplit ranks her as the eighth-best high school runner in the nation.
Every year, she’s off racing everywhere from Oregon in national meets to Colombia and China in international events. When decision time comes, she’ll be able to pick her college.
“I don’t expect to coach an athlete like that again,” Fort Collins cross country coach Mike Callor said. “She’s just ahead of the game as far as high school athletes go. She just knows how to race and put it all out there. She’s very race savvy. She’s the real deal.”
So, about that blade club. What’s the name?
“Blade Club!” shouts senior Claire Hooker, de facto co-chairman.
OK, so the name still needs some work. As does membership.
“It’s basically just us,” Gregory said.
Still, Tuesdays are blade-to-school days. At the John Martin Invitational earlier this cross country season, the skaters raced around the course, not running because it was rest day.
“It’s just a nice little hobby,” Gregory said. “Running is all mental, so the ability to keep your mind clear is huge.”
While racing is the most public aspect of her life, it’s far from everything. When Gregory started to dominate races as a young kid, her mom made sure she kept more in her life than just running.
Holding up the tip of her pinky, Andrea Gregory said, “‘Lauren, running is this part of you. There’s so much more to you.’”
Lauren excels in the classroom, she loves skating with the family’s dogs, adores swimming in the ocean and is “super compassionate toward everybody,” Andrea said.
When her little brother James was born, Lauren basically took over the job of caring for him. Now they run together, skate together and they can’t wait until next year when James is a freshman at Fort Collins and they’re teammates for Lauren’s senior year.
“She’s very funny. She’s very relaxed,” Andrea said. “She’s very laid back, she’s not a stresser about anything. As a matter of fact, I don’t know if she knows how. She’s very comfortable in her skin.”
Lauren says otherwise. She’ll get nervous before races, but she likes how it forces her to focus.
Her goofball nature is there almost all the time. But don’t mistake that for a lack of competitiveness.
Lauren and Andrea will end up throwing things during a game of Gin Rummy. Candy Land? Yeah, she doesn’t want to lose.
She may be laughing and smiling right before a race, but once the gun goes off, the killer focus locks in.
Once she’s done with the race, usually well ahead of the competition, it’s back to the ever-present smile and hugs for her competitors.
Then she’s off, ’blading into the sunset.
For updates from Saturday’s state cross country meet, follow Kevin Lytle at twitter.com/Kevin_Lytle.
Lauren Gregory resume
School: Fort Collins
Cross country: State champion (2013, 2014), team state champion (2014)
Track and field: 3,200-meter state champion (2014, 2015), 3,200 relay champion (2014), 1,600 relay champion (2015), team state champion (2014), second in 1,600 (2014, 2015), third in 800 (2015), fourth in 800 (2014)
Total state titles (individual, team and relay): 6