Eagle Valley runners return from Nationals in North Carolina as All Americans
Holding their own, and then some, against the best of the best
Eagle Valley High School’s Joslin and Samantha Blair, Jewel Scrivens and Avery Doan recently returned from their first New Balance Nationals Outdoor competition in Greensboro, North Carolina — as All Americans.
Featuring top runners from the U.S., Canada and commonwealth states and territories, the New Balance Nationals Outdoor in June features the “best of the best,” said Eagle Valley Track Club coach Charles Janssen, a coach with the high school’s program as well.
“To work with such young, malleable, hard working, talented and smart girls has been an honor,” Janssen said. “They are super coachable. The staff is awesome. The school is awesome. We went there on a mission to become All Americans, and they did exactly that. It was a perfect capstone to a long day at the end of a long season.”
Samantha Blair, who just finished her freshman year at Eagle Valley, took third place in the emerging elite 800-meter race at Nationals Outdoor with a time of 2:11.65, a personal best, the 10th best time in the U.S. for a freshman and fifth fastest recorded for an athlete in the state of Colorado.
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“For a freshman, it was really remarkable,” her coach said. “It was an amazing race.”
Older sister Joslin Blair, entering her senior season next year, finished the mile in fifth in the champion division with a 4:53.19, a 4-second personal best and third best from the state of Colorado. With the fifth-place finish, Joslin Blair earned All American honors. Going into the last lap of the mile race, she was in eighth before making a move to win by 0.06 seconds.
“It was a barn burner of a race,” Janssen said. “It was perfectly execute.
Earlier in the weekend, the four Eagle Valley runners finished third in the 4-by-800 meter relay in the emerging elite divison.
The final race of the weekend was the DMR — distance medley relay — in the champion division. Joslin Blair opened the race with the 1,200; then Scrivens ran the 400; Doan ran the 800; and Samantha Blair finished with the 1,600. With a time of 11:57.04, the girls finished with a fifth-place finish in the champion division — making them All Americans together.
“Most people don’t hear about people becoming All Americans until they get to college,” Janssen said. “So to become a high school All American is a pretty big deal. It’s a very small pool of athletes.”
To qualify as an All American, runners had to finish in the top 6 in the champion division.
Devils gaining momentum
The elite postseason meet in North Carolina requires tough standards to qualify. However, Eagle Valley had a strong year this past season.
“This past year the girls were eighth at the state meet, which doesn’t sound ultra glamorous, but that was the best finish that Eagle Valley girls have ever done,” Janssen said.
Joslin Blair helped lead the way, winning the state tournament mile race, earning second team all-regional honors at the Nike Cross Regionals and also winning a European Cup out of Italy last summer.
“The Eagle Valley program has really gained steam and prestige,” Janssen said. “To compete with the likes of Battle Mountain and Niwot is really awesome because they’re both really storied, amazing programs.”
While Battle Mountain was not in attendance at the Nationals Outdoor in North Carolina, Niwot sent some runners. Janssen was pleased with Eagle Valley’s DMR time, a few seconds faster than Niwot’s.
“For us to run faster than they did — I mean, that girls program last year set the 4A class record with the lowest points scored at a state meet ever,” Janssen said.
For the Blair sisters and Scrivens, their time with Eagle Valley is not done, as the trio will be returning next year. For Doan, however, she has graduated and is committed to Loyola Marymount University in L.A.
“That was an amazing way to cap off a really decorated career at Eagle Valley for her,” Janssen said of Doan.
While the training never stops, a full summer awaits before Eagle Valley High School’s next season.
“It’s a pretty big honor to be able to compete in that realm,” Janssen said. “It was really exciting for all of us, really.”
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.