Ereana McCallister’s life changed when she dedicated herself to track after her sophomore year.

At the time, the Harrison sprinter had been struggling academically, but she realized putting in work on the track and leaning on coaches for more than just athletic advice was the secret to success.

“Track has always been my go-to when I’m having a hard time,” McCallister said. “When I’m having trouble learning I can go to my coaches and they will help me through it. That’s mainly how I succeeded these last few years because I know without them and without sports I would have struggled.”

Now a senior, track has helped McCallister achieve more than she ever thought possible - a chance to go to college.

In May, McCallister signed her national letter of intent to run track at Iowa Western. Just days later she won the Class 4A 100 in 12.37, and placed fourth in the 200 (25.41), earning her the title of 2019 Gazette Preps girls’ track & field Peak Performer of the Year.

“Throughout my whole life I honestly never thought I’d be here,” McCallister said. “I asked my coaches, ‘Did you ever think I’d be signed to college on a scholarship?’ and they were like, ‘Freshman and sophomore year, I don’t know.”

McCallister entered the 100 finals with the fastest prelim time but stumbled coming out of the blocks, forcing her to make up the first few meters on a short track.

“I was nervous and I was shaking before the finals,” McCallister said. “I was thinking about everything I needed to live up to, and I stumbled a little bit, but I never fell, luckily.”

McCallister credited her state title to the Harrison 4x200 relay her sophomore year - the moment she realized track had the ability to shape her future.

But prior to that, her passion was football, which she played from ages 11 to 14.

“It built me to be strong and taught me mental toughness and how to deal with stuff,” McCallister said. “Being around boys nonstop who mess with you, if you can deal with that, a bunch of football boys, you can deal with anything basically — especially in Texas.”

When she moved to Colorado midway through her freshman year, McCallister ended her football career, despite attempts from the school's track and football coach Al Melo to get her to join the Panther football team. McCallister was also a staple on the Harrison volleyball team.

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