Eagle Valley puts on a show at home meet

Eagle Valley's Nathan Maddox barrels down the final stretch of his 5-kilometer run during the Eagle Valley Invitational cross country meet Saturday in Gypsum.
Justin McCarty | |

Eagle Valley Invitational

Eagle Valley boys, first place

6. Gino Giovagnoli, 17:35

8. Nathan Maddox, 17:51

12. Rafael Gurule, 18:23

17. Michael Niemeyer, 18:30

21. Brandon Sheard, 18:49

Eagle Valley girls, fourth

14. Nikki Cunning, 22:07

18. Michaela Mitchell, 22:37

19. Tyler Beckum, 22:40

24. Chantal Willoughby, 23:06

26. Shawna Adams, 23:11

VSSA boys

2. Ian Boucher, 16:38

3. Cal Deline, 16:48

VSSA girls

32. Sasha Horn, 23:44

37. Lauren Viola, 24:04

GYPSUM — Home cooking is always good, especially when you get up at 6 a.m.

“We actually were out there at 6 a.m. on Wednesday before the golfers woke up,” said Devils coach Melinda Brandt of the Gypsum Creek Golf course. “It’s the third year in a row there and it’s definitely an enjoyable and gorgeous place to have a meet.”

After its early-morning scout run of its home course, the Eagle Valley boys cross country team made itself quite at home Saturday, winning its home meet for the second year in a row.

And if it rains, that’s OK

“It’s a pretty fun course,” the Devils’ Nikki Cunning said. “It’s nice to run on a grass, nice soft surface. I love running in the rain.”

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Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but Gino Giovagnoli and Nathan Maddox went 1-2 for the Devils.

“A lot of it is pushing each other, driving each other to be better,” Maddox said. “It’s competitive, but we’re friends. We’re not out to get each other.”

And that’s good news because a Tanya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan tire-iron incident would be quite unbecoming.

The real story was Rafael Gurule surging up into 12th. Come regionals, and, knock wood, state, every team has top-line runners like Giovagnoli and Maddox. A powerful team needs depth. Gurule joining up with Eagle-Valley’s 1-2 punch is a good sign.

“Rafa definitely moved up and surprised everyone today,” Maddox said. “It’s encouraging because Rafa’s been working to do that and it finally happened. That gives us faith for regionals.”

And for his efforts, Gurule got the Hoss Award for the boys. If you’re not familiar with Devils cross country, the team itself votes on that honor after each race for the most inspirational runner.

Also of note is that Eagle Valley’s boys had runners in the 17-minute range for the first time this season. That’s an encouraging sign for mid-September.

The ladies finished fourth, led by Cunning. No surprise there. She’s the veteran of the team. Again, looking at depth as a key for team success, Michaela Mitchell was second for the team and Shawna Adams was fifth. Both are fresh-people.

Adams was running in place of Desy Mendoza, who picked up an ankle injury at the Battle Mountain Invitational last week. Brandt said Mendoza will be back in a few weeks and that the team is erring on the side of caution with her. But in the meantime, it’s nice to know the team has extra talent.

Tyler Beckum picked up the Hoss for the ladies.

It’s also nice to be home. Cross country teams travel far and wide in the state with very early wake-up calls and not very many fans. (Major kudos to the parents who are there every meet.)

“It’s an exciting time to showcase our sport to the community and to the people who don’t normally see our races,” Maddox said.

Eagle Valley’s next race is at Glenwood Springs on Friday.

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