CHEYENNE – Mikaila Trujillo was adamant about taking her performance up a notch this season.

The Cheyenne East junior’s desire to run in college was a main factor in that determination. And she knows how hard she needs to work to make that happen.

“I’ve been working a lot harder than I was last year, and I did work hard last year,” she said. “But I feel like I want it more this year, and I feel more capable, so my workouts have been a lot faster.”

It’s a different mindset than what Trujillo started her high school cross-country career with. As a freshman, Trujillo found success based simply on her talent. That mentality didn’t last long, though.

During her sophomore campaign, she made a leap and garnered a leadership role after getting settled in and finding her place on the team.

“As a freshman, I think she came in not knowing what to expect, but really wanting to succeed and take on that leadership role and not really knowing quite yet how to go about doing that,” East coach Rebecca Fournier said. “So, she was kinda running on talent freshman year and her love for running, which took her a long way.

“I think she realized that talent can only take you so far, and seeing everyone else around her work really, really hard at what they were doing opened her eyes a little bit.”

Now, Trujillo has turned that hard work into a successful campaign. She placed 21st at the Cherry Creek Steve Lohman Invitational in late August with a time of 20 minutes, 8 seconds, and she finished 17th a week later at the University of Wyoming Invite, clocking in at 21:06. She’s followed those performances with three top-12 finishes at quality races.

“It goes back to training in the summer, her quality of training this year, and her motivation and focus,” Fournier said. “She’s determined that that’s where she belongs, and she’s going to make it happen.”

Trujillo emphasized how her preparation in the summer helped her enter the season with a high ceiling, and has helped her maintain consistency at this point in the season.

“Having that base really helped,” Trujillo said. “I had all that mileage under my belt, so it made going faster a little easier, because during the summer, I ran a lot of distance. It made coming into the season easier than having to gradually work up to that speed.”

The East girls team, as a whole, hasn’t struggled to work up to speed and has seen itself improve by leaps and bounds through Trujillo’s three years. Trujillo attributed that to the family environment the team has built and how they’ve grown to push one another to get better.

Today, they’ll compete at the Leroy Sprague Invitational at Kingham Prairie View Golf Course, where they’ll look to take another step forward.

And with only two weeks until the state meet in Ethete, Trujillo will look to take another step toward peaking at the right time.

“I’m really excited to see where she is when she peaks,” Fournier said. “We’re kind of in a big training block right now, and it’s a little bit fatiguing. But when she gets to tapering, I think we’re going to see a lot of time fall off.

“She’s working harder than she’s ever worked. She’s grinding every day.”

On the course

Central and South will join East at the Leroy Sprague Invite today. The Pine Bluffs-Burns team will also compete in the race, which starts at with the varsity girls race at noon.

In the pool

Cheyenne South hosts Cheyenne Central, East and Laramie today for a 4 p.m. quadrangular.

On the court

Pine Bluffs hosts Burns for an intra-county matchup at 2 p.m. today. Burns also travels to Douglas to play Thermopolis at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Robert Munoz is a writer for WyoSports. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @rmunoz307.

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