Cheyenne South's Trey Downham has excelled since adding new event

Apr. 4—CHEYENNE — Joe Brisbois doesn't suggest event changes or additions to track and field athletes willy nilly. It's why the Cheyenne South coach has such a high success rate with the athletes he suggested changes to.

Trey Downham can be added to that list.

The junior broke South's school record in the 300-meter hurdles the very first time he ran that race in competition with a time of 41.89 seconds at the Golden Eagle Invitational on March 19 in Frederick, Colorado. The previous mark of 42.65 seconds was set by Gabe Beliaj in 2015.

"I had two full practices to work on getting over hurdles," Downham said. "My form isn't super great right now, but that's a pretty impressive first race. I'm excited to see what I can do when I get the form down."

Downham also cleared a personal-best height of 6 feet to win high jump at the Golden Eagle Invite. He was third in the 200-meter dash.

Brisbois suggested the 300 hurdles as an option for Downham, in part, because he was left with just two events as the Bison search for a fourth sprinter to round out their 4x400 relay team. Downham, Forrest Heschke, Sam Thoms and J.T. Quigley placed 10th in the 4x400 at the Class 4A state indoor championships, but Quigley plays soccer during the spring.

Downham is a fast enough 400 sprinter to be part of a strong 4x400 team, but Brisbois wasn't sure he could shave enough time to beat the state qualifying standard of 51.43 seconds. The coach was confident Downham has tools to be a good 300 hurdler. Downham's school record time is less than a half-second off the 4A state qualifying standard.

South hurdles coach Nicole Quigley agreed with Brisbois' assessment of the 6-foot-4 Downham's potential in the 300 hurdles.

"We have struggled to find a really good boys hurdler since Gabe Beliaj, and (Downham) is one of the more talented kids I've been able to work with," Nicole Quigley said. "He has the speed and the height that is a real advantage in hurdles.

"It's all about working on technique and getting comfortable. He had a lot of potential and room for growth, so it's going to be exciting to watch him."

Nicole Quigley welcomed Downham to her group of hurdlers with open arms — and slightly lower hurdles.

"The first practice, I didn't think the hurdles looked as tall as I expected and she told me, 'No, that's the height they are,'" Downham said. "In my first race, they looked taller than in practice, and I smacked my knee off the first hurdle pretty hard. I asked her about it after the race, and she told me she had lowered them in practice so I could get used to going over them.

"She got me prepared for what I needed to do. It was only one click down, but it was still pretty sneaky."

Quigley smiled when she heard Downham's description of her deception before noting he isn't the first hurdler she's used that coaching tactic with.

"I want the kids who have never done hurdles before to feel confident going over them, especially in that first race," she said. "He came out hard and aggressive at the start, which is what we want to see. He learned pretty quickly that he has to work on his trail leg.

"Overall, he did a fantastic job for only having a couple practices under his belt in that event."

Downham backed his school record performance at South's season-opening meet with a sixth-place time of 44.20 at the John Ganser Invite in Sidney, Nebraska. It wasn't the kind of time Downham wanted to have, but he was happy with it considering the impact the windy conditions had on the race.

"The wind hit you while you were in mid-air and would kind of hold you there or push you back," Downham said. "It was still a solid time for just being my second race in that event."

Downham didn't just set a school record in his first 300 hurdles race, he also won bragging rights in his own family. His older sister Darby — who now runs at NCAA Division II Western Colorado University in Gunnison — posted a personal-best time of 45.56 seconds during her junior year at South.

"I told him I wanted him to at least beat her time in his first meet, so I was pretty blown away when he ran a 41.89," Brisbois said. "... The 300 hurdles isn't just a raw sprint. You have to have some strategy and know when to go full speed and when to back off a little bit. He has run both of his races really well when it comes to that.

"Now that he's run a 41.8, his goal has to be sub-41. After that, it's sub-40. I have all the confidence in the world he's going to rock it."

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at or 307-633-3137. Follow him on X at @jjohnke.