The future is bright: Eagle Valley takes 11th in boys 4×800-meter relay final, Lady Huskies place second with only two seniors between both |

The future is bright: Eagle Valley takes 11th in boys 4×800-meter relay final, Lady Huskies place second with only two seniors between both

Whitton and Almonte return from morning 3200-meter races to help Huskies finish second to Niwot in girls 4x800

Daniel Valesco competes in the 4x800-meter relay at the 4A state track and field meet Thursday in Lakewood.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

For four years, the Eagle Valley distance crew has been led into battle by Jake Drever. On Thursday, the Jedi master could only watch his apprentices run the 4×800-meter relay final, his four-event limit filled by the 3200, 1600 and 800-meter runs and 4×400-meter relay. After finishing just off the podium in 11th in a season-best time of 8:11.38, Cooper Filmore, Armando Fuentes, Daniel Valesco and Tyler Blair proved there is a new hope, if we have to use a Star Wars-themed play on words.

“We had Jake with us throughout the year and we PR’d without him,” said Fuentes, who split a 2:01.33 to propel the Devils into seventh place going into the third leg.

“We had Daniel step up and it was pretty great to have that. I think we did great as a team. We were hoping for podium, but we can get that next year.”

Cooper Filmore led the Devils, who return everyone but Valesco next year, with a 2:02.33 opening leg, a two-lap season-best.

“I felt pretty good,” he said. I normally die in the last 200 and this time I was a bit more strong. I was cookin’.”

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Tyler Blair cruises down the backstretch en route to a 2:00.99 anchor leg in the 4A boys 4×800 relay.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

Freshman Tyler Blair closed with the team’s fastest time (2:00.99) as Eagle Valley took the valley rivalry win. Battle Mountain led off with Jorge Sinaloa’s 2:03.73 en route to a 17th-place 8:33.27.

“To have those guys run that well, especially without Will and Porter, really bodes well,” head coach Rob Parish said.

For Filmore, Drever isn’t the only significant senior friend he’ll be saying goodbye to this spring. His band, Trees Don’t Move, which is playing at the Eagle Block Party for the second time this summer, will graduate three members. Just like his summer training, he’s taking the last concert calendar pretty seriously.

“This summer we’re going pretty big.”

Huskies finish second to Niwot in girls 4×800 as Whitton and Almonte double back from 3200

Milaina Almonte competes in Thursday’s 3200-meter run final. Almonte placed ninth in a career-best time of 11:10.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

If it weren’t for Niwot, the Battle Mountain girls track and cross-country trophy case would look a little different. The Huskies ran into another Cougar conundrum in Thursday’s 4×800-meter final, finishing second in a time of 9:34.73 to the Boulder-area running magnate’s 9:22.60. Parish said it was the eighth-straight year his girls have finished first, second or third in the event.

Milaina Almonte and Lindsey Whitton returned from 3200-meter efforts at 9:15 a.m. to help the relay squad 90 minutes later.

“At least it’s getting shorter in distance,” Almonte, who placed ninth in a career-best 11:10.60 in the 3200, said in between her duties.

“The field was really good,” she said of the morning race, a dual between Niwot’s Addison Ritzenhein and Summit’s Ella Hagen. “It really strung out early so it’s kind of hard, you have to pick your way up.”

Ritzenhein ran 10:30.05 to win by two seconds over Hagen.

Addison Ritzenhein and Ella Hagen duke it out on the final lap of the 3200-meter run.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

“I tried to stick in a pack at the beginning, but at the mile I really felt it in my legs and slowed down a little,” Almonte said. “But then, I kind of just tried to pick it up on the last lap and go all out.”

Whitton, who has been splitting time between Vail Christian soccer games and Battle Mountain track meets all spring, also ran a personal best (11:30.14) to finish 14th.

“These last few weeks I’ve only had track, so I’ve definitely made a jump,” she said. “I had a PR, so that’s good. I’m very happy.”

Almonte split a 2:21 to lead-off the 4×800, handing off in fourth-place as Niwot started slow and was only fifth at the first exchange. Whitton got the Huskies into third as Niwot surged to first behind a 2:19 second-runner split. Addie Bueche brought Battle Mountain to second, but the gap was too large for Lindsey Kiehl to close, despite a 2:20.87 leg.

Lindsey Kiehl anchors Battle Mountain’s 4×800 relay team to a second place finish Thursday at Jeffco Stadium in Lakewood.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

“I was hoping it would stay close enough to be interesting at the end,” Parish said, adding praise for his athletes who doubled back.

“That’s what you’re coaching for – that they’re able to manage the situation, whatever it is.”

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