Peyton Garrison’s track scholarship first Division I full ride in Coal Ridge history |

Peyton Garrison’s track scholarship first Division I full ride in Coal Ridge history

Rich Allen
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Coal Ridge junior Peyton Garrison pushes across the finish line Saturday as the Titans’ 4x400 relay team took gold at the 3A State Track and Field Championships in Lakewood.
Cody Jones/Post Independent

In Ben Kirk’s fondest memory of Peyton Garrison, she’s chugging pickle juice.

Garrison had just won her first state championship title in the 100-meter dash, the race she was most concerned about entering the state championship meet in Lakewood in June. After the podium photo, Kirk expected to meet her — and a celebration — at base camp. Instead, she was slamming a half a jar of pickle juice, getting mentally and physically prepared for her next race, the 400 meters — which she also won.

“She didn’t want to take about the 100,” the Coal Ridge athletic director and track and field coach remembers. “She was just ready for the next thing. That’s always her. She never focuses on, ‘I’ve done this.’ It’s just, ‘What’s the next thing I can accomplish?’”

As it turned out, there were a lot of next things for Garrison to accomplish. She’s a two-time all-conference runner and one-time all-conference volleyball player. She won four state championship events.

For Coal Ridge, Garrison accomplished several firsts. She led track and field to its first team championship. She was, as far as Kirk could tell, the school’s first statewide Athlete of the Year.

On Tuesday, yet another accomplishment blazed another trail for her fellow Titans — signing a letter of intent on a Division I full-ride athletic scholarship to Montana State University. Never before had a Titan had their full college tuition paid for by an athletics scholarship, according to Kirk.

Broaching yet another frontier, however, has still not changed Garrison’s mindset.

“It’s exciting,” Garrison said. “I don’t let myself get ahead of myself knowing, ‘OK, I did that, but I know I can do more.’ I’m not going to let that limit myself.”

Coal Ridge High School’s Peyton Garrison signs her national letter of intent to Montana State University on Nov. 16.
Rich Allen/Post Independent

It’s a mentality that propelled Garrison to being the top running collegiate prospect in the state, as some coaches told Kirk. Early on, Kirk saw what he had in Garrison and pushed the envelope. He ran her with the boys in practice. He tasked her with competing in extra events throughout the season just to better prepare her for state competitions.

Whatever he threw at her, she grinned and rose to the challenge.

“Most kids, if I put them in that kind of situation, they would either complain about it or they wouldn’t run them at the highest level,” Kirk said. “It was just typical Peyton. She’s like, ‘Love it, let’s do it.’”

Even in her other sports of volleyball and basketball (she’s not playing this year), the work ethic bleeds in. She secured an all-conference volleyball spot as the team’s outside hitter this season as the Titans made a late push to reach the regional round of the playoffs.

“There’s always a desire to be better at what she does,” Coal Ridge volleyball head coach Aimee Gerber said. “I’ve never seen her not get along with her teammates. I’ve also always been impressed with … she has this special gift that not everyone gets with her running ability, and she’s very humble about it and grateful for it and just an overall hard worker.”

After compounding on an obvious talent early on to turn into a state champion, the college calls started coming. Colorado Mesa University, Colorado State University, University of Wyoming and others picked up the phone.

But after a trip to Bozeman a week before signing plus a full-tuition scholarship, the temptation to become a Bobcat was too strong to pass up. Garrison will not only continue her running career but will also get to study equine science at no expense.

“Them being very well in agriculture was a big piece in the decision for me to go there,” Garrison said. “Their offer was a big part. also. and them giving me a full-ride was a big part. also. I was like, ‘100%. I’ll take that.’”

Coal Ridge High School’s Peyton Garrison signs her national letter of intent to Montana State University on Nov. 16.
Rich Allen/Post Independent

The letter of intent may be signed, but there’s still work to be done before the Titans see Garrison off to Bozeman. There’s another track season to try to claim more medals.

Earning a full-ride scholarship would be a sense of accomplishment enough, maybe even prompt a tactical business decision to take the foot off the gas in the senior season for some. But that wouldn’t be ‘Peyton-like,’ as Kirk calls it.

“It makes me almost want to work harder to get those times I want,” Garrison said. “OK, I signed, but I still have goals and achievements that I still need to make.

“Winning state again is what I want.”