When Trevon Powe stepped onto the podium at the Class 4A/3A/2A state track and field championships Friday afternoon at Mount Tahoma High School, he knew how far he’d come.
The Wilson High School senior took second in the 3A 110-meter hurdles at 14.52 seconds. Meadowdale’s Christapherson Grant, who is the state leader in the event, edged Powe at the finish line by 0.11 seconds.
“I came a long way, and it was a lot of hard work and preparation coming in to this,” Powe said. “And I feel like I deserve it, and I’ve worked for it, and it was really amazing.”
Powe — who also qualified for Saturday’s finals in the 3A boys 100 and 200 — has endured more than most en route to a state medal.
Four years ago, Powe, his mother and younger brother were homeless. The family moved from Carbondale, Illinois, when Powe was 13 in search of a better situation.
“A lot more out here for me, clearly,” Powe said. “Where I’m from is kind of like a dead zone. It’s really small, a lot of bad people. … (My mom) moved me out here to get me exposed to this amazing life.”
But the amazing part took a little while. Between eighth grade and the beginning of his freshman year, Powe’s family was homeless for nearly two months.
Powe said his family often asked to stay with friends. At one point, they found a shelter to stay at, but were kicked out after a week because their clothes were too nice.
“It was an emotionally draining process and hard to cope with throughout high school,” Powe said. “Having friends ask if they could come over and having nowhere to live. It was hard to tell them anything, really hard to make friends, and really depressing.”
Powe said his family lived in subsidized housing for three years as it worked to get back on its feet.
“Now we’re good, and we’re better,” he said.
Powe works as a courtesy clerk at the Safeway on 6th Avenue to help his mother pay bills. His teammate and best friend, Billy Greer (who also works at Safeway), praised Powe’s work ethic.
“He takes everything really seriously,” Greer said. “Especially sports, family, school — he just makes sure he gets everything done.”
That mentality is especially evident on the track. At the 3A West Central District meet last weekend, Powe took home four titles — in the 100, 200, 110 hurdles and as part of the 4x100 relay team.
“He works really, really hard,” Greer said. “Ridiculously hard. He worked all offseason, every single day.”
Powe ran his second-place finish in the hurdles Friday before qualifying for Saturday’s 3A boys 200 final with the No. 4 seed half an hour later. Earlier in the day, he earned the No. 2 seed in Saturday’s 3A boys 100 final.
“I definitely want to have a good mindset going into the races because it all depends,” Powe said. “We’re also so close in time that, honestly, that mentality could lead you through. I’m just trying to think positive about it.”
The only blemish on Powe’s road to four state medals was Friday’s 4x100 relay. In the first heat of the boys’ 3A preliminaries, Wilson had a slight lead coming into the final exchange. Greer attempted the hand off to Powe, but it got caught between Powe’s index and middle fingers and slipped to the ground.
“It’s crazy, because literally the exact same thing happened at practice, and we were trying to iron it out all week,” Greer said. “I don’t really know what happened, just the heat of the moment. It’s a horrible feeling.”
Powe said he felt like he disappointed the team with the drop, but Greer didn’t have any hard feelings. The well-being of his teammates is just one more thing Powe takes really seriously.
“He’s like everyone’s big brother on the track team,” Greer said. “When you think of a captain, like, the ideal captain — that’s Trevon.”