Tyrese Vanhorne is not your average high school athlete.

Yes, he’s from Jamaica. And yes, he’s a track state champion from Harrison. Those are definitely things that make him stand out.

But there’s more.

Instead of sleeping in during the summer, like many teenagers do, he’s up by 5 a.m. getting ready for a two-hour practice at his school track. And he does this knowing he’ll only see one other face: Kurt Clark, a Harrison track assistant.

And Vanhorne has a reason he’s doing all this.

This week, he’s participating in the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Greensboro, N.C.

On Thursday, he finished the 200 meters in 22 seconds but did not make the final cut. However, he will compete in the 400 — his best event — on Friday, for a chance to compete in the final at 9 a.m. Sunday.

The trip not only helps get his name out to potential college recruiters, but it also will serve as a way for him to earn some redemption.

“I’m a fighter, so I’ll be able to recover,” Vanhorne said. “I can always bounce back.”

He said he felt heartbroken after he learned he was disqualified in the 400 final during the Great Southwest Classic in Albuquerque, earlier this summer. He posted a personal-best 46.67 seconds, good enough for second place. He even stepped up to the podium and received his medal.

But two hours later, he found out that his time didn’t count. He learned that he had stepped on the line in his race. By then, he had already left the stadium, so meet officials let him keep the medal.

Nonetheless, the disqualification scarred him.

Nowadays, he takes steps to make sure he doesn’t commit similar mistakes in the future. So when he’s practicing at the Harrison track up to five days a week, he’s focused. He listens to his coach and simply does drills without complaining.

“The motivation comes from inside,” said Clark, the Harrison assistant. “I don’t have to do anything.”

In May, he won the 200 state championship — despite not warming up like the other competitors in the race. Instead, he was literally warming up in his father’s truck before shedding four layers of clothes and heading down to the track at JeffCo Stadium just in time for the start.

When he thinks about that the state meet, he chuckles. See, he was born in Jamaica, where it’s nice and warm almost all the time. Not in Colorado. And even though he moved here with his family at age 12, he apparently is still getting used to the weather.

“I think I let the weather get the best of me,” he said. “I wasn’t mentally prepared.”

Nor fashionably prepared, he added. He said he could’ve worn warmer clothes and better track cleats on a cold, cold state meet day. He alluded that those things contributed to a lackluster performance in the 400 as he placed fifth in 50.51, about two seconds slower than the winner.

But he said that experience will only help him get better.

And he’s trying to achieve that by waking up early to practice while his classmates are likely still sleeping in.

“It tells you how dedicated he is,” Harrison track and field coach Al Melo said, referring to the summer workouts. “He’s improving his craft and becoming a better sprinter and I think he enjoys the competition. He rises to the competition.”

Chhun Sun is a sports reporter with an emphasis in preps. He joined The Gazette in April 2015 and covered public safety for three years before joining @gazettepreps staff. The Thailand-born Cambodian-American has been in journalism for nearly two decades.

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