The legacy a sports star left behind

How Evan Likins follows in his brother’s footsteps

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Photo by Caden Rainwater

For some, Owen Likin’s absence may have left a void in multiple Tiger sports, but his incredible ability will live on for years to come. Younger brother Evan, a junior, continues to blaze a trail of success in the cross country, track and swim programs. 

Story by Maria Rangel, staff writer

Owen Likins left Texas High with a reputation as a sports prodigy. From securing first places in the majority of his cross country meets, to churning out winning times in swim events, Owen repeatedly made his name known in the state of Texas. Owen, a 2020 graduate, now runs track and cross country at Texas Tech University. For some, his absence may have left a void in multiple Tiger sports, but his incredible ability will live on for years to come. Younger brother Evan, a junior, continues to blaze a trail of success in the cross country, track and swim programs. 

Like the older Likins brother, Evan competes in cross country, swim and track. The cross country season recently came to an end with his performance topping his previous year’s. However, his rapid improvement left him unsatisfied and hungry for more. 

“I don’t think [my performance] was terrible. It was faster than my freshman and my sophomore season, but I’m always gonna want more,” Likins said. “I was hoping to make it to regionals, [but] I didn’t this year. I’m just gonna work hard in the offseason [and] get there next year.”

What drives Evan to continuously strive for improvement is a skillset he’s progressed his whole life and a deep passion for endurance sports. They’re a part of his day-to-day identity as well. 

“I’ve done sports all of my life,” Likins said. “They’re an important part of who I am, and I just love them.”

He remembers his brother’s prior status within the school as a top athlete as he was teammates with his older brother on all three sports for two years. Thinking about his brother’s talent can be challenging at times and can even affect his athletic performance. 

“I [compare myself to him] a lot, probably more often than I should. I’ll look at his [personal record] times from when he was my age and stuff like that,” Likins said. “I think it probably does affect [my performance] negatively. It depends on my attitude towards it. Sometimes I just feel like I’m never gonna get to where he’s at because he’s such a good runner.”

His older brother’s recognized athletic skill has put some pressure on him. This pressure, however, isn’t from peers, parents or coaches; they graciously recognize his autonomy as a person and an athlete. In actuality, he sets the expectation solely to push himself.

My coaches, my parents and everyone else have been really good about [telling me] I’m my own person and my own athlete. They’re gonna be happy with me no matter what; most of it is just what I put on myself. ”

— Evan Likins

“I do feel like there’s a little bit of pressure because he’s obviously a really good runner. I’m trying to live up to what he accomplished,” Likins said. “But my coaches, my parents and everyone else have been really good about [telling me].”

One may see the pressure Evan puts on himself as negative, but it actually serves as a crucial motivator for his training and mentality. His brother’s performance drives and guides him in his athletic endeavors, consistently pushing him to improve. 

“It motivates me because every day in practice, I’ll work hard just to get to where he’s at. I’ve seen him practicing hard all these years; I know what it’s done for him and that it could do the same for me,” Likins said. “[If] I’m looking at it as ‘he’s at this point, I’m gonna push myself and try to get where he’s at and maybe even be faster than him one day,’ that’ll affect [my performance] positively.”

As the cross country team’s recent top runner, Evan has willingly taken on the role of a leader. He’s ready to lead the team with determination and positivity by bringing an optimistic attitude, ultimately helping the team improve. To do this, he’s planning to introduce small, practical changes.

“One of my main goals for cross country next year is to get up every morning with a better attitude. Because cross country is so early in the morning, I’m usually not in a great mood during practice. I wanna work on that because I think if I have a better attitude it will result in a better practice [and] better times,” Likins said. “Hopefully that will cause my teammates to have better attitudes towards cross country as well, and if all goes well I can lead the team to do better.”

Evan still hasn’t decided whether or not to pursue sports after high school, but he’s certain to use his next year and a half in Texas High athletics to figure out his future. Although he exhibits high athletic talent, he’s kept his expectations for potential colleges under tabs. 

“I could [play college sports],” Likins said. “I don’t know if I’d be able to go to as big of a college as Texas Tech, but I feel like if I wanted to, and I really worked on being recruited, I could go to a smaller college.” 

His expectations for college, though humble, potentially open the doorway to a multitude of athletic opportunities. Considering the high standards he’s set and a desire to keep improving, his athletic journey continues with the upcoming track season.