GYPSUM - Cross country is a very lonely sport.
It takes a ton of training during the summer and fall, which isn't exactly glorious work. When it is race day, it's usually a 4 a.m. bus to somewhere on the far side of the state.
So imagine, getting to sleep in to 6 or 7 a.m. and actually having fans at your meet one week.
"There's definitely a sense of pride in having home meet," Devils coach Melinda Brandt said after Saturday's Eagle Valley Cross-County Invitational at the Gypsum Creek Golf Course. "We had a lot of fans, a lot of people from the community, the spirit teams, the principal and the (athletic director) of school there. It was so nice to have that support."
And the Devils gave the home fans a show with the Eagle Valley boys winning the whole shooting match, while the girls took third.
Hunter Burnham led the way for the gents, finishing fourth in 17 minutes, 11.5 seconds. In all, the Devils boys had four finishing in less than 18 minutes, which is really nice sign for a team on Sept. 15.
Gregg Salaz took fifth in 17:19.3, followed by Nathan Maddox (eighth, 17:34.4) and Michael Niemeyer (ninth, 17:44.6). Rafael Gurule (16th, 18:14.9) rounded out the scoring, with Carson McQueeney 18th and Will Thrasher 20th.
Nine is the big number when it comes to Eagle Valley boys cross country. A team can take nine runners to regionals in Delta on Oct. 20. Burnham, Salaz, Maddox and Niemeyer, Brandt said, in some order, likely have regional spots. After that, it's really anyone's guess as the Devils have a host of runners competing for five spots.
"We're not letting up on our training," Brandt said. "We're going to be wearing out the guys during the week. We're keeping our eyes on the goal. These meets are great and it's fun to win them, but it's about the end of the season. The guys got a taste of state and they want to go back and do well."
To that end, let the healthy and friendly competition begin, though it's worth noting that the Devils boys won their second meet in as many weeks for the first time in the program's history.
For the ladies Gabriela Avila laid down a scorching time of 20 minutes, 46.8 seconds for seventh place. That's just 6 seconds behind Nikki Cunnning's school record. If Cunning has anything to say about it, she's in position to keep her record. She finished 14th with a 21:30.2.
Meanwhile, Mindy Alderete is proving the be the find of the year. She was 11th Saturday in 21:13.0.
"Mindy's been the pleasant surprise of the year," Brandt said. "She's fantastic and totally new to running. She's getting better every week, and she very coachable. 'Oh I you want me to run with the fast girls? OK.'"
Samantha Maddox was fourth for the Devils in 18th (21:40.8), with Maggie Gilman (24th, 22:24.1) in the fifth spot.
The Hoss Award winners were Dominic Patterson and Avila.
The Devils are at Arvada next week.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.