Devils boys second at Fruita |

Devils boys second at Fruita

Bob Shearon | Special to the Daily

FRUITA – Well, hello again.

Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley cross country finally crossed paths Saturday for the first time since the former’s home meet three weeks ago. And both teams accomplished what they wanted at the Anna Banana Invitational Saturday.

By a coin flip determining the order, here’s the wrap from Fruita:


The queen is dead. Long live the new queen.

OK, nobody died, but Eagle Valley’s girls cross country record, set two weeks ago, went by the boards. Gabrielle Avila had it at 20 minutes, 40 seconds. Both Chantal Willoughby and (20:04) and Avila (20:17) blew by that record Saturday.

We can sense a sub-20-minute round at regionals at Delta, if not sooner.

That helped the Eagle Valley girls finish fifth out of 24 teams. If you’re wondering – and the Devils were too – Eagle Valley was second out of the 4A regional field present.

Nikki Cunning, who has also held the record, was 36th in 21:03, followed by Samantha Maddox (46th, 21:14) and Tyler Beckum (64th, 22:02).

Eagle Valley was without Mindy Alderete and Maggie Gilman, which was fine because Saturday’s race allowed the Devils to keep the competition going for varsity spots at regionals.

“I think our depth is playing a really important role,” Devils coach Melinda Brandt said. “Tyler stepping up into fifth place (on the team) was key to our scoring. Bob (Samantha Maddox) also stepped up big.”

The Eagle Valley boys were pretty big, too. The Devils finished second, just two points behind 5A Grand Junction.

Gregg Salaz (16:44) and Hunter Burnham (16:51) flew under the 17-minute mark. Nathan Maddox was 16th in 17:06. Rafael Gurule was 40th in 17:46. Will Thrasher put up a personal-best time of 17:56.

“The boys are fired up,” Brandt said. “Every week, they set a goal and achieve it. They’re not letting up.”

The Hoss Awards went to Burnham and Willoughby.

Eagle Valley is at Aspen next week.


Battle Mountain girls cross country placing at a meet isn’t usually a big deal. The Huskies’ second-place finish Saturday, nonetheless, was a surprise.

That’s because Battle Mountain’s strategy wasn’t exactly conducive to good results. At coach Rob Parish’s behest (a nice way of putting it), the ladies ran in a pack for the first 2 miles of the 3.1-mile race. After that it was everyone for themselves.

“The goal of that was to force our top girls to have more of a down race with not as much stress,” Parish said. “It also forced our fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh runners to go faster and give them confidence.”

The Huskies girls still ended up tying for first. Battle Mountain lost the first-place prize on a tiebreaker.

“To be perfectly honest, I was surprised we were that far up in the standings,” Parish said.

The girls’ times show the grouping for the first 2 miles – Mandy Ortiz (19:46), Vail Constien (19:58), Sydney Gaylord (20:30), Christina Shearon (20:33), Bridgett Courtois (20:38), Anabel Johnson (21:30) and Jenai Denardo (21:56).

The Battle Mountain boys took sixth. Parish said that David Suarez and Ethan Pence looked a little tired, which is understandable. Both play soccer as well and have had a ridiculous schedule as of late.

Joe Barrett led the way in 17:06. Suarez was still churning along nicely at 17:43. Josh Braun had a “monster day,” according Parish with a 17:45. Ethan Cotton was also under 18 minutes in 17:56. Pence finished in 18:07.

Battle Mountain is at Dakota Ridge on Tuesday and then at Boulder Saturday. Expect Parish to continue to tinker with his charges.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or

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