COLORADO SPRINGS - Amongst other things before the 2018 CHSAA State Cross-Country Championships' Class 3A boys' race began at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, Bayfield head coach Josh Walton challenged Jonas Nanaeto and Elco Garcia, Jr., to both pass those who'd passed them, as many as each could manage, the previous Friday.
That didn't exactly leave either Wolverine many available targets; both had placed top-15 at the Region I Championships up in Aspen the week before. It was more likely that Walton was simply asking both juniors to re-create their State-qualifying intensity and also give anything they may have held in reserve.
Almost immediately swallowed up in the pack seconds after the starter's gun cracked the El Paso County air, Nanaeto and Garcia had no choice but to go for broke on the course, which started and ended inside Norris-Penrose Event Center.
"Yeah, I passed a good amount of people," said Nanaeto who, like Garcia, attends Ignacio High but competes for BHS. "There was only, like, one Aspen kid I almost caught at the end."
Fifth place at Region I, Aspen Skier senior Everett Olson again out-legged Nanaeto (sixth at Region I) to the finish line and placed 41st in 17 minutes, 42.5 seconds. But after his closing kick took him past Highlands Ranch-based SkyView Academy's Ibrohim Nosirov and Andrew Wolfmueller, Nanaeto finished just two-tenths of a second behind Olson - who'd been over 15 seconds faster at the regional - and took 42nd out of 160.
Nanaeto finished the state course with an impressive time of 17:42.7. "I felt really relaxed," he said. "A little bit tired...those hills take you out."
"It's a really good improvement over last year," he continued, addressing his season as a whole. "Because last year I didn't know what I was actually getting into! But this year, I have an understanding."
Meanwhile, Garcia came in 94th overall with an 18:30.8 clocking. Colorado Springs-area local Mason Norman, a junior at The Classical Academy, repeated as State Champion in a scorching 15:33.4, breaking older brother Tanner's 3A and course record of 15:44.7. Salida senior Camden Gillis (16:18.8) took second.
Neither runner's squad, however, left with the coveted team title. That honor went to Lafayette Peak to Peak, as the Pumas posted an adjusted score-5 low of 76 points. Salida followed with 80, while TCA (107), Alamosa (149) and SkyView (184) rounded out the standings' top five. Led by Olson, Aspen amassed 425 points and placed 17th out of 20 contending crews.
The Pine River Valley's sole girls' qualifier, IHS freshman Avaleena Nanaeto - Jonas' sister - ran in the Class 2A girls' grand finale, clocked 24 minutes, 22.4 seconds, and finished 73rd out of 114.
"I was moving and passing and trying my best to get to the front," she said. "This is a learning experience, and I'm very proud of myself because I finished. I wasn't really going to join cross-country, but here I am - I made it to State! And that's just a cool thing to do."
Lyons junior Katie Fankhouser won the feature in 19:24.5 while freshman teammate Quin Gregg finished second in 19:36.7. In the race's score-3 format, Lyons won the team title with an adjusted meet-low 15 points. Bailey-based Platte Canyon earned second with 43, while Oak Creek Soroco (47), Lafayette-based Dawson School (70) and Paonia (72) rounded out the 20-team table's top five.
"I'm just extremely proud of our young lady," said Ignacio head coach Marissa Duffey. "She went out a little nervous, but completed a very challenging course and so I'm just excited and elated for her. It's been such a great season for her. Coming out here with older brother, who has been running for the last couple years, and getting to spend some time with him yesterday on the course and getting comfortable...it was just a great opportunity for both of them."
"It felt really good that there's two of us," agreed Jonas Nanaeto.