DELTA — Good thing that kid came out for cross-country.
Eagle Valley’s Gino Giovagnoli set the new school 5K record Friday at the regional meet, posting a time of 16 minutes, 17 seconds, helping the Devils to a second-place finish and state berth for the third-consecutive year.
“I was really proud of the guys,” Devils coach Melinda Brandt said. “They took off an accomplished all their goals. Our top-four guys (had personal records). This is, by far, the strongest team we’ve had in school history.”
Giovagnoli, who until this fall had only run track, knocked off the best runner in Eagle Valley cross-country history in Mario Gonzalez, who held the previous mark at 16:22. While Giovagnoli gets his name on the board in the gym, this was a team effort with Nathan Maddox.
“Nathan and I race together and we took turns drafting each other,” Giovagnoli said. “We got to mile No. 2 and we were behind pace. It helps to have a person to run with to get your goal.”
Both Giovagnoli and Maddox ran negative splits for the final mile, and, for the record, a negative split is really quite a positive, Both clocked sub-five minute miles close the race, which is a ridiculous pace in a 3.1-mile race.
Giovagnoli was third overall in 16:17, followed by Maddox in fourth (16:24). Eagle Valley nearly had its top-four guys under 17 minutes for the first time in program history. Both Rafael Gurule and Michael Niemeyer were 1-second-and-change off that pace. And Eagle Valley bested Battle Mountain, which is always a point of pride.
The girls suffered a bit of heartbreak, tying four fourth. With just four teams getting berths for state, the Devils lost on tiebreaker, which goes to the sixth runner. In fairness, it was pretty amazing that the Devils were in state contention. Eagle Valley had the injury bug this year “with everything from ankles to appendixes,” as Brandt put it.
The good news is that Shauna Adams did qualify as an individual.
Meanwhile, the Devils boys are rearing to go at state.
“It’s incredible,” Giovagnoli said. “It’s a great group of guys and we’re really having a good time this season.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and firstname.lastname@example.org.