Erika Timbang probably has a new favorite Niwot track memory after her team’s win at the Class 4A state meet on May 18, but heading into the three-day event, the team-centered senior was hard-pressed to single one out.
“Is it cheating if I say that I loved every moment of it? All the hard workouts and even when I threw up after practice. Even with the ups and downs, it’s been something I’ve been committed to staying passionate about. It’s one of my reasons to get up.”
That passion and commitment paid off in spectacular fashion at this year’s championships, and Timbang capped off her high-school career with gold medals in the 4×200 meter and 4×400 relays and a top-five finish in the 800 sprint medley. She also got a chance to help her team finally capture the elusive Class 4A state track title, after falling just short during her first three seasons.
Timbang’s passion and commitment also earned her a nickname from Niwot head track coach Maurice Henriques, who praised the senior’s range and affable attitude.
“I call her ‘Miss Reliable,’ because we can run her anywhere from the [800m] down to the [100m] and she’s just Miss Consistent. She’s been solid for four years.”
It didn’t start off that way. When Timbang joined the team as a freshman, she competed mostly in the 100- and 200m dashes, with some success. Before her junior year, Henriques suggested she try racing in the mid-distances, and that’s when she really found her “niche.”
“The coaches showed me that I was a lot better in the 400 and the 800,” she said. “So I feel like I really discovered running in my third year of high school.”
Timbang has found most of her success with the Cougars on the relays, notably in the 4x400 where she is a repeat state champion and was a part of the team that broke the school record last year. She said she prefers to take the first leg, so she can be sure the team gets a lead they can build on.
“I find it a lot easier to run relays than individual events, because I’m motivated to run for something more. I just feel more alive in relays. I would choose one over individual events any day.”
After graduation, Timbang will be moving onto the next phase of both her academic and running careers at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. There, she will specialize in either the 400- or 800m on the track, and hopefully contribute to the relays.
“They have a similar team culture, so I really feel like I’m going to the college version of Niwot... I never thought I’d be a collegiate athlete, and it’s all because Coach Mo put me in more distance events.”
Off the track, she is still undecided.
“I have so many interests, I just can’t choose,” she said. At Niwot, Timbang took a combination of IB and AP classes and counts history and biology as her favorite subjects. “Yesterday, we had a pig dissection and that was super interesting to see. But I also love learning about the past. It’s kind of my thing.”
Luckily, she has a while before she has to decide. Until then, Timbang plans to spend the summer competing with her team one last time at the New Balance Nationals in June, and trying to soak up every last bit of fun before hitting the track for her new team.
Photo by Jocelyn Rowley
Senior Erika Timbang after taking the handoff during the 800 meter sprint medley at the Class 4A State track championships on May 16-18. Timbang also helped the Cougars take the state title in the 4x200 and 4x400 relays.