SHERIDAN — The runners take their mark, anchoring their spikes into a starting block held in place by a predetermined teammate. The track official demands the student-athletes are set before firing off a shot into the thin Wyoming air.
After the first few steps, Alec Riegert looks up, seeing one hurdle after another sprawled out over 300 meters. The Sheridan High School senior launches over the first with relative ease, takes a few steps and breezes over the next.
As Riegert comes down the home stretch with patrons cheering him on and opponents trying to play catchup, the only thing as captivating as Riegert’s speed is his hair.
“It’s his mojo,” Sheridan head coach Taylor Kelting said.
So why does this Bronc bound for the collegiate track have long mane flowing behind him? It certainly doesn’t make him any more aerodynamic. Simply put, when Riegert reached a certain age, he grew tired of going to the barber shop every couple of months.
It was around that same time where Riegert discovered his passion for the sport in which he now excels. During his seventh grade year, Riegert joined the Sheridan’s junior high track team after a few friends urged him to do so.
It only took a couple seasons for Riegert to immerse himself in the sport, as he joined the indoor and outdoor team as a high school freshman. Following a ninth-and 11th-place finish in the 300- and 110-meter hurdles, respectively, Riegert was hooked.
“Just with how close I got to placing at the state meets, I didn’t realize how good it was to place that high as a freshman,” Riegert said. “So after my freshman year, I put more dedication into it.”
Riegert also put more care into his hairstyles. What started out as a simple annoyance with attending the barber shop blossomed into multiple different looks.
At one point there were braids. A couple months later, Riegert decided to give cornrows a try. Some days Riegert would just let it flow, while other days he’d bunch it up into a bun.
While no one quite knew what Riegert would look like from week to week, one thing remained consistent — his improvement.
As a sophomore, Sheridan’s hurdler took third in both the 300 and 110 hurdles at the state meet. As a junior at state, Riegert finished runner-up in the 300-meter hurdles and third in the 110-meter hurdles.
“He is the definition of a competitor,” Kelting said. “When he steps on the line or gets ready for his hurdle races, it’s all blinders. He knows he can be the best kid since his freshman year. He’s not afraid of anybody, and it has helped him excel throughout.”
Riegert is currently knee deep in the recruiting process. He has several schools looking at him to run track at the next level, but is still waiting for a couple more offers to come his way.
That will likely require Riegert to shave about a second off his 38.55-second time in the 300-meter hurdles.
“I’m shooting to break 38 seconds in the 300s,” Riegert said. “If I did break that, I feel like I’d get a lot more attention from a lot more schools.”
But Riegert doesn’t think too much about that. He feels the right opportunity will present itself in the next month or so leading up to the state meet.
Until that time, Sheridan’s hurdler will continue to make minor tweaks, focus on details that will help him sever off a 10th-of-second here and a 100th-of-a-second there. Riegert will do all of that while maintaining his flow, his swagger, which simply makes him who he is.