PARACHUTE - Grand Valley High School's cross country team has reached a bit of a milestone, and the season hasn't even started yet.
The Cardinals have a full, scoring boys team for the first time in a while, coach Mark Jansen said. That speaks volumes for the Cardinals, who return a state qualifier from a year ago and hope that sending more this season will be a realistic possibility.
"Things are very encouraging because they're running very strong together, and the younger kids who just came on are keeping up," said Jansen, who will serve as the team's primary coach while Kim Whelan, the Cardinals' coach for the past five seasons, takes a step back this year. "I have a feeling we're going to have four to five very strong cross country kids this year."
Among those is senior Isaiah Martinez, who returns in pursuit of a second consecutive berth in the 3A State Championships. He'll be joined by a host of runners on the boys and girls sides who each hope to use the success they've had in track and field to their advantage during the cross country season.
Rico Roman, a senior, reached the 3A final in the 300-meter hurdles and the 1,600-meters a year ago. Jansen said Jonathan Marbas, a sophomore, ended up logging a lot of miles during the summer thanks to his parents, who spent much of that time training for a marathon.
Other boys team members Jansen expects will do well include senior Paul Gonzalez and junior Miguel Valles, sophomore Joel Carrasco and freshman Jonathan Smith. On the girls' side, Roman will be joined by junior Erin Schuckers.
Two athletes will run cross country and play other sports this season. Sophomore Korrie Hurt will also play volleyball and junior Luis Pena is on the boys soccer team.
Grand Valley will compete in its first meet on Friday, when the Cardinals run in the Delta Invitational.