WolverCat harriers shine at Joe I. Vigil Open IHS’ Garcia, Nanaeto help BHS earn eighth

Running for 3A Bayfield High School, Ignacio’s Jonas Nanaeto (160) charges towards the finish line ahead of 4A Widefield’s Asher Finch (74) during the 2019 Joe I. Vigil Open, Sept. 7 in Alamosa. Nanaeto placed 31st overall in 17:32.9; Finch followed in a 32nd-place 17:34.2.
Running for 3A Bayfield High School, Ignacio’s Elco Garcia, Jr. (144), leads a pack of competitors, including 4A Albuquerque, N.M., Academy’s Oliver Pilon (35), during the 2019 Joe I. Vigil Open, Saturday, Sept. 7 in Alamosa. Garcia finished 18th overall in a personal-record time of 17:03.5; Pilon ended up 15th in 16:48.5.
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum
Joel Priest | Special to the Drum

“Some of our kids in Leadville got done with the race, and…you know, Leadville’s at 10,000 feet, and there was a good hill on the course.  But all the kids finished the race, they walked up to me, and the first thing they said was, ‘Our course is harder,’” Bayfield Cross-Country head coach Josh Walton recalled recently.

“It’s interesting how they compare…to our course.  Ours is tough, but I think it makes them better in the long run.”

The Wolverines will indeed enter their own BHS Invitational Saturday morning, Sept. 14, as potential favorites running on all cylinders.  And no one will step to the starting line more energized than Ignacio senior Elco Garcia, Jr.

Though he placed 18th individually at the Sept. 7 Joe I. Vigil Open, his time of 17 minutes, 3.5 seconds was a new personal record and helped neighboring Bayfield achieve something not previously done during Walton’s tenure: Place higher than perennial Intermountain League and CHSAA Class 3A powerhouse Alamosa.

At AHS’ home meet, no less.

“Elco just continues to do amazing things,” said Walton.  “He’s really looking forward to this weekend….”

Not concerning themselves with chasing down eventual team champions 4A Albuquerque (N.M.) Academy, who tallied a meet-low 66 points, nor even 4A Durango (fourth place, 136) on the Cattails Golf Course route, the Wolverines finished eighth overall and amassed 14 fewer points than Alamosa’s ninth-place 273.

IHS senior Jonas Nanaeto helped BHS keep something of a tight top three as he took 31st in 17:32.9—crossing the finish line a little more than 23 ticks after BHS junior teammate Zeb Shields (22nd, 17:09.2).

“The kids were pumped about that,” Walton said.  “All of our top three ran very well, and for Elco Garcia to run an all-time best, it was really fun to see.”

4A Los Alamos, N.M., settled for second in the Open’s team standings with 77 points, while 5A Littleton Dakota Ridge took third with 110.

Idle from competition the weekend of Sept. 6-7, Ignacio Girls’ Cross-Country will return to action at the Bayfield Invite. Results from the Lady Bobcats’ trip to the Aug. 29 Aztec, N.M., Invitational were still unavailable by press time.

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