EDWARDS — Battle Mountain High School’s Val Constien’s aspiration for the upcoming track and field season seems a little strange at first.
“My one goal would be for our 4-by-4 relay team to be in the running for first place with 100 meters to go,” Constien said. “Whether we win or not doesn’t matter. I want us to be in it during the last 100 meters. That would be the most beautiful moment.”
For an accomplished athlete such as Constien, that doesn’t seem like much. After all, she’s finished in the top five in Class 4A cross-country for the past two years. During three springs of high school track, she’s qualified for state in the maximum 12 events. And she’s even qualified for the state meet in Nordic in both disciplines for the past two winters.
Why the mile relay?
“In college, I’m never going to run the 400. I’m not going to be a jumper,” said Constien, who triple jumps for the Huskies. “I want this season to be something spectacular. All these events, I’m never going to do them again.”
That’s the bad news. The good news is that Constien signed a national letter of intent to attend the University of Colorado to run cross-country and track, in particular, the steeple chase, next fall.
“I am incredibly excited to be running on arguably one of the best cross-country programs in the country,” Constien said. “I’m also excited to be surrounded by girls who are just as crazy about running as I am.”
Here’s the pitch
The University of Colorado’s men won the Division I NCAA cross country title this past fall, while the ladies finished seventh. But that was just one of many schools interested in Constien.
It started on Sept. 1, 2012, when she went from being a sophomore to a junior, which meant she was eligible to be recruited by colleges.
Nearly 70 schools were asking about her, sending her letters and emails. That got narrowed to Montana State, the University of Portland, Washington, Nebraska and CU.
Given that her coach in the fall and the spring, Rob Parish, is a Montana State alum, it is sort of surprising, she didn’t head to Bozeman.
“My roommate in college is an assistant coach there,” Parish joked.
But in the end, she decided on CU. Constien felt comfortable there academically and athletically.
“I wanted to go to school where I’d have access to nature and be in a place where it snows,” Constien said. “I really like the change of seasons. With CU, it’s easy to get to the mountains and it’s familiar, but it’s also important to train at altitude.”
Welcome to a big pond
And given Boulder’s altitude, it’s no surprise that CU coach Mark Wetmore and his program tend to attract athletes like Constien. (She’s the fourth from Battle Mountain’s running program to go to CU. Other athletes who went that route include Max VanDyke, Jonny Stevens and Constien’s former high school teammate Mandy Ortiz.)
While there is no questioning Constien’s ability, it’s a big step from the 4A Western Slope to Division I running.
“That’s something we talked about,” Parish said. “Val was very eager to go to a school at the highest level. There were so many opportunities. She could have gone to a program where she could have made an immediate impact and been a lead runner right away. She wanted to be challenged every day in practice. She will have to scratch and claw to make the traveling squad, but it will serve her in the long term. It’s the best situation for her.”
Academically, Constien is no slouch. She hopes to major in biological or chemical engineering with an eye toward developing sports clothing.
“I love good running gear,” Constien said. “And there’s some stuff I’d like to change.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and firstname.lastname@example.org.