During his 43 years coaching track at Montezuma-Cortez High School, Bob Archibeque has rarely witnessed the combination of grace, speed, character and competitive drive exhibited by Aryelle Wright, Morgan Short, Avery Wright and Elaina Short on and off the track.
Bound by blood and forged in friendship, the two sibling groups have combined to form what has become the fastest relay group in their M-CHS history while elevating the girls track program to new heights.
Competing at the Pueblo Twilight track meet in Pueblo on May 3, the Wright and Short sisters paired up to beat numerous Class 4A and Class 5A schools and win top honors in the 4x100-meter relay (49.73), 4x200-meter relay (1:43.86) and 800 sprint medley Relay (1:49.46).
The team’s times in the 800 sprint medley and the 4x200-meter relay broke Pueblo Twilight meet records and the quartet currently holds school records in the 4x100-meter relay, the 4x200-meter relay, the 4x400-meter relay and the 800 sprint medley relay.
The school records in the 4x100-meter relay, the 4x200-meter relay and 800 sprint medley were set in 1991, 1992, and 1990, respectively, by a decorated group of runners who won multiple state championships.
Asked what makes the combination so special, M-CHS track coach Bob Archibeque cited the combination of work ethic and natural strength and speed.
“There’s an aura between all four of them,” Archibeque said. “They see a light at the end of the tunnel and they work their butt off to get to the light. They’ve also been real fortunate to have been blessed with some athletic gifts.”
Chief among the athletic gifts to which Archibeque referred are strength and speed. Aryelle Wright is the defending Class 3A state champion in the 400-meter dash and M-CHS’s school record holder in the 800-meter run.
Avery Wright is currently the school record-holder in the 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash, Morgan Short ranks among the area’s top sprinters and hurdlers, and Elena Short has consistently found herself near the top of the standings in sprint events.
“We have great coaches this year,” Aryelle Wright said when asked about the keys to the team’s success. “We have specialized coaches (for different events) and every coach is experienced. We’re focusing on state titles and we’ve been planning (for the state meet) for a while.”
Although the decorated group has yet to decide which relays they will compete in at state, they will likely rank at the top of every event that they enter and will be favorites to capture multiple state relay titles.
As meaningful as their success on the track has been and will be, however, all four runners agreed that the bond they share on and off the track and the support they provide to each other in everyday life will be far more meaningful than medals.
“We’re all really supporting of one another and we try to hype each other up when we get nervous,” Elaina Short said. “We are so excited and proud of one another.”
“We’re all really close,” Avery Wright added. “I remember in Pueblo, when we heard that we broke the record, I remember running to each of (my teammates) and hugging them. The fact that we are all so close has made it extremely special.”
“We humble each other,” Morgan Short explained. “We pray before the races and we go back to remembering that we’re blessed to be here; we’re blessed to run on the track and we’re blessed to be healthy.”
With Morgan Short and Aryelle Wright set to graduate from high school in May, the group’s opportunities to compete together are quickly dwindling.
With that in mind, each runner is focused on making the most of their remaining opportunities while setting a stellar example for young runners in their community who would one day like to be in their shoes.
“The advice that I would give (to young runners) is to work hard and never give up,” Morgan Short said. “Even if success doesn’t happen right away, it will happen.”
“I would say don’t let circumstances disable you from doing bigger things,” Aryelle Wright added. “Just because you’re from a small town ... don’t let certain things defy you. Go after what you want.”
Wise words, to say the least, from the fastest quartet of runners in Montezuma-Cortez High School history.