GRAND JUNCTION — Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out which team is winning a cross-country race.
There’s one kid from one school, another kid from another school, and coaches and spectators are trying to do the math in their collective heads.
Eagle Valley’s ladies finished 1-2-3 and their varsity seven all ended up in the top 12 during the Warrior Invitational in Grand Junction, so no calculator was needed.
“We have coaches all over the course,” Devils head coach Melinda Brandt said. “And then I see our girls coming in 1-2-3. I thought, ‘Well, we just won that meet.’”
Yes, indeed, and the Eagle Valley boys put their seven in the top 30, so it was a Devils sweep at the Warrior.
Not only did Eagle Valley top the competition, but it also conquered the mud. It poured all day in Grand Junction. There was 3 inches of water in the parking lot alone. Race officials had to shorten the course to 2.7 miles, instead of the typical 3.1, for safety reasons — so take the times when comparing them to other meets around the state with a grain of salt — but this was a mud fest.
“The kids had a ton of fun embracing the conditions,” Brandt said. “It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen for a cross-country race.”
Carly Volkmer, no stranger to running, but making her cross-country debut, won the girls’ race. That won the senior the Hoss Award. (For those unfamiliar with Eagle Valley cross-country, the Hoss is an award voted on the by the team after each race.) Desi Mendoza and Shawna Adams rounded out the podium.
Mendoza and Adams are both sophomores, and, by and large, the girls’ team is young, but, at first glance, talented. Along those lines, freshman Brynn Meehan won the JV race, so it looks like there will be competition for varsity spots during the season, always a good thing for a team.
Michael Niemeyer led the boys with a time of 15 minutes, 30 seconds, finishing fourth. Again, it was a shortened course, but that’s still on pace for a nice time. Brandon Sheard and Nat Jordan placed seventh and ninth, respectively.
Look for the Eagle Valley boys to get stronger as veteran Gino Giovagnoli didn’t run because of the practice-number rule. (It’s been a quicker start than usual to high school sports this season, so that’s not on Giovagnoli.)
Meanwhile, the new blood on the boys’ side helped the Devils to a win. Dean Smith, not the basketball coach, but the Eagle Valley runner, picked up the boys’ Hoss for his first varsity run.
Next up for Eagle Valley is Friday’s meet in Delta. The Devils are definitely hoping for some better footing there, but know there’s a lot of work ahead.
“We need to keep getting better,” Brandt said. “We’ve got a lot of runners new to cross-country. We’ve got to keep getting stronger.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.