Drever closes Devils’ career with 14th-place 1,600-meter run finish as Brunner and Middaugh take sixth and 17th for Huskies
Brunner will race International U18 Mountain Running Cup held in Annecy, France this Saturday
After Thursday’s slow and tactical 3,200-meter run, Eagle Valley’s Jake Drever wasn’t going to let his final individual prep race come down to a sprint.
“Yeah — I was definitely aggressive,” said Drever, who took the 4A boys 1,600-meter out in a 61-second first lap and led through 800-meters, too. The peloton crossed the halfway point in 2:06.80.
“The pack was pretty congested; it was just bad to be in there, and I felt like I just had to go to be safe from being kicked or tripped,” he explained.
“I was hoping that hey, if it works, it works, if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. If I don’t run well, everyone will forget it at some point. I was more just rolling the dice and seeing what happens.”
Six runners, led by eventual winner Shalom Trowbridge of Grand Junction Central, took over at the bell as Drever worked to remain connected. With 400 to go, he was still just one-second off the leader, with the clock at 3:16.
Support Local Journalism
“I kind of was just trying to hold the front pack and hope I could be in that top half, but obviously it didn’t really go as planned,” Drever said. “I think I was just pretty tired — I’ve done a lot of racing.”
The forthright approach ended up costing the Devil, who also competed in the 3,200, was three hundredths of a second from an 800 podium Friday and finished Saturday running the 4×400.
Drever would come home in 4:23.58 Saturday, under his personal best by a couple ticks as Shalom sprinted to the win in 4:14.50. Xzavier Campos (4:15.08) and Summit’s Dominykas Remeikis (4:16.01) placed second and third, respectively. Despite establishing every Eagle Valley distance record by wide margins, Drever was understandably crestfallen by the fact he couldn’t quite nab an individual state track podium during his illustrious career — a testament, if there ever was one, to the depth of Colorado long-distance runners.
“I mean, I was disappointed I didn’t get any individual medals. I was ranked high and didn’t get close to what my placements said,” Drever said.
“Obviously, paper is paper, it’s not real life, but I really think everybody really showed up in 4A. I don’t like making excuses, but I maybe raced too much if I was really going for placements.”
Battle Mountain’s Will Brunner and Porter Middaugh would finish in sixth (4:17.30) and 17th (4:28.94), respectively. It was Brunner’s second individual podium of the meet. The junior said he was battling an illness throughout the week, but the 75-second pace to start the 2-mile hid his health predicament.
“I was just like, I got to stay super tough. It’s just going to come down to if I can mentally be tough through the race,” he said of his approach going into the 1,600, his third event in three days. “I was still excited to race and I still think I had a pretty OK race — so I had a lot of fun with it.”
His season isn’t over yet, either. Brunner was named to the 2023 USATF U18 Mountain Running Team slated to compete at the 16th edition of the International U18 Mountain Running Cup held in Annecy, France, on May 27.
“I’d like to win, but I think just doing my best and trying to be the best competitor for my team and score as many points for the team is the goal,” he said of his goals for the trail scene. After a season in which he claimed the 800, 1,600, 3,200 and 5,000-meter school records, placed third at state cross-country and won the Huskies first individual boys state title in the 3,200 on Thursday, Brunner is savoring his accomplishments, but refraining from resting on his laurels.
“I think the whole weekend has been a high to be honest with you,” he said. “Obviously getting that 2-mile win was a dream. Getting that was good, but you know, I think I learned a lot in yesterday’s 800 and I’d say the same about today. It gets me fired up for next cross-country season.”
“I don’t want to be content where I am,” he continued.
“I’m excited to start my summer training block, I’m excited to race in France next week and go to nationals and race. I’m not going to be content with where I am, (but) always look for what’s next and what’s better.”