Vail-area runner Jason Macaluso sets time to beat for Colorado Mountain College’s new cross country team | VailDaily.com

Vail-area runner Jason Macaluso sets time to beat for Colorado Mountain College’s new cross country team

Battle Mountain High School 2019 graduate Jason Macaluso comes in with a strong finish for Colorado Mountain College at the 10,000 Foot Invite in Leadville Aug. 31. Maculoso was the CMC Cross Country Team's top finisher for the men's 8K.
Phil Dunn | Special to the Vail Daily

Colorado Mountain College Leadville hosted the 10,000 Foot Invite on Saturday, officially introducing the college’s new cross country running team. The meet signified the first time CMC has ever had a sanctioned cross country team, which means it can now compete as part of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

“I saw a lot of positive things today,” said Coach Darren Brungardt of the all-freshmen team, who competed against a cross country team from Colorado College. “These six men are trailblazers for the future of this team.” 

Brungardt recruited five runners from high schools in Colorado, and one runner from Kansas.

Battle Mountain grad tops times

CMC’s Jason Macaluso graduated last June from Battle Mountain High School. He clocked the fastest time among CMC racers in the men’s 8K at Saturday’s 10,000-ft. Invite.

With a time of 32:22, the CMC freshman vied for top spots with two Colorado College seniors who came in at 29.41 and 30:29, respectively. 

“Jason set our school record for an 8K, by default,” Brungardt said with a smile, referring to the team’s first sanctioned race and first top finishing time. “I was so proud of Jason’s attack from the beginning. He hung with runners who are, at sea level, 25:00 8K racers.”

“It was great to get out with my teammates and I look forward to competing with them this season,” said Macaluso of Saturday’s 8K.

The team’s innovative organizational and training structure allows runners to attend any one of CMC’s campuses; Macaluso attends CMC Vail Valley in Edwards. Teammate Connor McDermott also trains remotely while attending CMC Spring Valley at Glenwood Springs. The rest of the team are students at CMC Leadville.

“They train when we train, and are part of the team online and at meets,” Brungardt said of Macaluso and McDermott.

Running at altitude

Brungardt said that running at altitude creates challenges he’s excited to work on with the team.

“This is the highest collegiate cross country race in the galaxy,” Brungardt said, grinning, of the 10,000 Foot Invite. “With runners topping out at 10,300 feet, lungs are tested and perseverance must be mustered. I have no doubts in my mind that these guys can drop six to 12 minutes faster at lower altitude. The rest of our races are flat courses: on a golf course, a park or a crushed gravel trail.”

The team’s next meet is the Joe I. Vigil Open in Alamosa on Sept. 7. For more on the Colorado Mountain College Cross Country Team, visit coloradomtn.edu/athletics/cross-country-team.