Garcia shifts into high gear at the AVI


Arriving out of what seemed like nowhere, Elco Garcia, Jr., seemed more than amenable to doing some roadwork as he greatly impacted IHS’ 8th Annual Abel Velasquez Invitational on Saturday, April 8.

In the 1,600-meter run, the freshman won in five minutes, 6.41 seconds, with 3A Pagosa Springs sophomore Nate Lewis (5:12.41) and 2A Dolores sophomore Phillip Hufman (5:16.45) his closest competitors.

3A Montezuma-Cortez freshman Tyler Cutrone (5:22.69) and 4A Durango soph Ethan Holst (5:24.13) rounded out the top five of the event’s 22 finishers, with IHS freshmen Jason Foutz (6:25.59) and Johnathon Paulsrud (6:57.14) standing 21st and 22nd.

Garcia was almost able to pull off the rare long-distance double, but finished second – giving him 18 team points in the specialties – to Pagosa Springs senior Jacob Hughes in the 3,200 in a time of 11 minutes, 22.55 seconds (Hughes finished in 10:36.22). Durango freshman Luke Tichi was right on Garcia’s hip, only another 0.19 seconds behind in third, but PSHS soph Kaleb Buffington (12:16.52) and Mancos junior Zane Wilson (12:16.93) were almost a minute slower rounding out the top five.

Totaling three team points in the short sprints, Bobcat senior Bryan Gram placed sixth in the 100 meters, crossing the finish line in 12.23 seconds. He improved one spot to fifth in the 200 with a 25.51-second clocking, as 3A Bayfield freshman Dylan Hilliker won both disciplines in 11.81 and 24.26 seconds, respectively.

Gram, however, earned eight points in the 400, placing second with his 53.86 and trailing only M-CHS senior Josh Ramos’ ten-point 52.63. He also logged another top-ten in the long jump, flying 17 feet, two inches and placing tenth.

Freshmen Jonas Nanaeto and Esteban Romero both placed in the 300-meter hurdles’ top-ten, finishing eighth (48.51 seconds) and ninth (51.13), but Ignacio was not represented in the shorter 110-meter version. Nanaeto was also one place from earning the ’Cats another team point in the high jump, clearing 5’5” and ranking seventh, but senior Colten Smithson did manage to do so with his seventh-place pole vault of 8’1”.

Junior Natoni Cundiff launched the discus an even 118 feet, placing third – and earning IHS six team points – behind 2A Del Norte senior Hafen Campbell (124’0”) and 2A Mancos freshman Caden Showalter (121’7”). He also took ninth in the shot put, heaving the sphere 35’2.5”, while sophomore Lucas Roderick placed 13th in both events by throwing 81’0” and 32’7” respectively.

Up next for Ignacio’s boys – who collectively placed sixth with 36 points – will be the Pine River Invitational in Bayfield on Saturday, April 15, and Durango’s Ron Keller Invitational on the 18th.

2017 ABEL VELASQUEZ INVITATIONAL BOYS’ TEAM STANDINGS: 1.Montezuma-Cortez 176, 2.Bayfield 97, 3.Mancos 64, 4.Pagosa Springs 63, 5.Durango 54, 6.IGNACIO 36, 7.Del Norte 32, 8.Dolores 10, 9.Dove Creek 7.


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