Vail Valley Running Club wins Girls Small School Nike Regional |

Vail Valley Running Club wins Girls Small School Nike Regional

The Battle Mountain runners scored 29 points without their top runner

Lindsey Kiehl and Lindsey Whitton went 1-2, running blistering times of 18:23 and 18:30, respectively, to lead the Vail Valley (Battle Mountain) girls to a small school division Nike Southwest Regional team title. Presley Smith snuck in the top ten as well with a 19:20. The team was running without their top runner, Milaina Almonte, who ran in the championship race, finishing in 27th with an 18:12.

“They were fantastic,” said head coach Rob Parish.

If one places the Vail Valley girls’ times in the championship race, they would have placed.

“They had the best conditions — 8 o’clock,” noted Parish, identifying the difference in temperature between the small school race and the afternoon championship races.

In the medium school division, Jordan Neifert ran 19:09 to place 7th overall for Eagle Valley Track Club (Eagle Valley High School). Jake Drever set a personal best with a 15:55 to nab 8th place in the boys medium school division, which had 260 runners.

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Drever went off script from his scheduled 5:04 pace, electing to stay with the top group and compete. “I didn’t want to lose that front pack,” he said. He admitted after the race that he paid for the 4:53 opening clip in the second and third mile, but is encouraged knowing what could still come at Running Lane Nationals on Dec. 4. “I just need to remember in Alabama to not take it out way too fast,” he said.

The ambitious junior is enjoying his breakout season, and is hoping to run in the 15:30s or faster at his final race.

“I’m going to push a little bit differently, but I still think I have a lot to give,” he said definitively.

In the boys championship race, Vail Valley placed 11th as a team but was just 12 points out of 8th place. Sullivan Middaugh led the way with a new career best time of 15:26.21. Porter Middaugh finished in 15:34 and Will Brunner finished in 75th but will have to wait for his junior season to go under 16, as he finished in 16:00.33.

“They were very competitive. You know, that’s what the big goal was,” Parish said.

Samantha Blair finished in 10th place in the girls championship race in 17:46. Ella Hagen of Summit High School moved up 11 places in the second half of the race to finish in 15th in 17:53, rounding out the local contingent.

“Sammy came back with a pretty monster last 1k,” coach Charlie Janssen said. “She had a lot of grit and fight left, despite not feeling her best.”

Blair earned 2nd team All-Region honors with the performance.

“Really proud of everyone’s efforts all around today.”

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