Whether it’s running or academics, South Kitsap High senior Evelyn Collins-Winn has never shied away from hard work. Sometimes, though, it’s still helpful to receive a push from a friend.
Collins-Winn spent a lot of time during COVID on solo runs, putting in five to seven miles most days, mixing in hills on her tempo runs, but once a week she would train with a friend and SK alum Kevin McDermott, who now runs for Western Washington University.
Keeping up with McDermott once a week was just the boost she needed to go along with her long runs down the Cushman Trail. Cross country coach Ed Santos raved about her fitness level before the team’s first meet of the season and she went on to run her best 1600 and 3200 times ever during track season.
“Consistently doing 40-45 mile weeks for a long time really helped me get really strong and react well when I got to doing workouts again,” Collins-Winn said.
All the hard work paid off as she landed a spot at the University of Portland, where she will run for a Pilots program that regularly sends runners and teams to NCAA nationals. Her 4.0 GPA — she is one of South Kitsap’s 2021 valedictorians — helped her get plenty of academic scholarship money as she plans to begin the pre-med program.
The well-rounded Collins-Winn is the Port Orchard Independent’s Female Athlete of the Year.
In searching for the right college program, Collins-Winn said she wanted to find a program that would challenge her to reach new levels. She was recruited by Portland State, but she was more interested in the University of Portland program and took it upon herself to reach out to their coaching staff.
“Training with fast people makes you fast,” Collins-Winn said. “I wanted to join a team that had that.”
It was important to find a middle ground where she could prove herself as a good college varsity runner without joining an enormous program where she might fall through the cracks, so to speak. Collins-Winn felt the University of Portland was that perfect fit.
“I really did welcome the higher level of competition,” Collins-Winn said.
Among the highlights of her four years at South Kitsap is the 2019 4A West Central District 1600-meter run, which was the first time Collins-Winn felt she had a real strategy in the race. She and Paxton DePoe stuck with the pack for the first 800 meters before closing hard to finish third and second, respectively.
Collins-Winn said the 5:06.99 time she recorded in that race was a big accomplishment as she grabbed the last spot in the district meet out of the SPSL.
During her time at South Kitsap, she reached the podium at the 4A state meet twice in the 800. But she did save some of her best performances for her last year.
At the SPSL championships in April, Collins-Winn ran the 3200 for the first time in a non-dual meet setting and posted an 11:07 time to capture the league title. She also hit a personal record in the 1600, finishing second to Bellarmine Prep standout Ella Borsheim with a time of 5:04.75.
Past Independent Female Athlete of the Year recipients:
2020: Ashley Cameron
2019: Paxton DePoe
2018: Savannah Foster
2017: Paxton DePoe
2016: Emma York
2015: Hayley Romo
2014: Hayley Romo
2013: Miranda Caballero
2012: Maile Keanu
2011: Kelsey Callaghan
2010: Riley Dopps
2009: Stephanie Osterdahl
2008: Kaileigh Westermann
2007: Madison Rousell
2006: Madison Rousell
2005: Brittany Miller