A year after breaking a state-meet record in the high jump, expectations weighed on the shoulders of Bayfield High School track and field star Jordan Lanning. She shrugged off the pressure and delivered in the grandest fashion.
Lanning committed to Colorado State University for track and field in the spring. Her decision to quit basketball and focus solely on track was paying off, and it was evident with her dominant performances in early meets. When it came time for the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Class 3A State Track and Field Championships in Lakewood, Lanning hurdled and leaped to three state titles and another third-place finish. She was a one-woman show, breaking her own Class 3A state meet record in the high jump. In the process, she was named the CHSAA Class 3A Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year and was the run-away winner of The Durango Herald Girls Athlete of the Year.
Her achievements helped her leap past Durango’s Madeleine Burns and Emma Hackett for the Herald award. Lanning, daughter of Audra and Jeff Lanning, first moved to Bayfield from the Cripple Creek/Victor area before her sophomore year, and she immediately captured the attention of the coaches who knew she would be special.
“I knew I was pretty good, but it really wasn’t until I got to Bayfield that I just got it,” Lanning said. “I knew I could only get better if I could just reach past my breaking point. I kept at it every day. Whenever I thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore,’ I always just found a way to keep going. I’d get in my head a lot, and it’d actually impact my performances. But once I got through that mental block, I became much more optimistic and the results improved a lot, as well.”
After state, Lanning had a rare five days of rest and relaxation before she got back to training for the Great Southwest Track and Field Classic this weekend in Albuquerque. She is representing Colorado in the heptathlon in her first attempt at the event that combines the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter run, long jump, javelin throw and 800-meter run.
“Honestly, it was really nice to just relax for a bit, recover, and now I’m getting back into the swing of things again,” Lanning said. “I know how hard I’ve worked to get to this point, and those days off really did me a lot of good, but now I’m really looking forward to competing in the Great Southwest.”
During her five-day hiatus from hurdling, she reflected on her career. She is a four-time state qualifier and four-time state champion with two wins in the high jump paired with this year’s long jump and 100-meter hurdles victories. She has finished on a state podium nine times.
Bayfield head coach Josh Walton is in his sixth season in charge of the Wolverines and said he has never seen an athlete control a meet the way Lanning did.
“In all my years of coaching, and I’ve had a lot of different athletes, I have never had an athlete dominate in so many events as Jordan has,” Walton said. “We’ve had some incredible athletes come through this program, and on our records board, every single girls record has been broken in the last six years by four girls.
“Jordan holds so many records. The state records, not necessarily the championships, for me tell her story. She didn’t just win state championships, she broke state record meets, including the high jump at 5-foot, 8-inches. Nobody has ever done that in 3A, so for her to do it and what she’s done in the manner in which she’s accomplished it is truly remarkable.”
Lanning’s feats weren’t only noticed by her coaches, but also her peers who helped motivate her all season.
“It’s been amazing to watch her,” said BHS senior David Hawkins, the 3A shot put state champion and The Durango Herald Boys Athlete of the Year. “She’s an incredible athlete, and you don’t see what she’s been able to do very often. At every meet, getting to see her completely dominate, it’s something I’ll remember for a long time.”
Lanning described her junior-year breakthrough like a switch being turned on. She put all of her efforts into her final track season, and it paid dividends.
“I didn’t end up playing basketball this season so I could just focus on track and field, which included the indoor season,” Lanning said. “I feel like, in the end, it was the right decision for me.”
By the time the outdoor track and field season rolled around, she knew she wanted to attend CSU and was set on competing in the most grueling event at the next level, the heptathlon.
With the support from Walton and her parents, she recorded marks in every field event except the pole vault and discus throw, including the javelin throw and shot put in Farmington. On the track, she recorded marks in every event minus the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs.
“I told her that whatever marks she wanted to get, she could,” Walton said. “She didn’t end up competing in the triple jump this year but did really well last year. She also didn’t compete in the distance events, but virtually everything else she went for, and it was unbelievable to see. Her competitive drive is remarkable.”
While she’s leaving for Fort Collins in a few short months, Lanning said she’s going to embrace the remainder of her summer by going for bigger medals than just a state championship.
“From here, I really want to do well at the (USA Track & Field) meets and would love to be competing at nationals,” Lanning said. “Looking back, I’m just so thankful for all the support. I know I’m going to a high-major Division I school, but I’m not sure that it’ll hit me until I’m training full time; it’s still surreal to me. I’m super grateful for the accolades and the accomplishments, but I know I’ve got to keep pushing myself and keep working hard.”
Editor’s note: The Durango Herald selected high school sports players of the year based on a unanimous decision between sports editor John Livingston and sports writer Brendan Ploen. Increased consideration was given to multi-sport athletes who showed leadership in their communities.