Rifle’s Brenden Wagler: ‘People know who he is now’ | PostIndependent.com

Rifle’s Brenden Wagler: ‘People know who he is now’

Jon Mitchell
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
Rifle High School senior Brenden Wagler didn't even consider running cross country when he first started high school. Now, Wagler has become one of the top distance runners not only in Class 4A, but in Colorado.
Jon Mitchell / The Citizen Telegram |

All of the times that Brenden Wagler has posted during the 2014 prep cross country season has gotten him a lot of extra attention. Not that he’s complaining.

“I kind of like it,” the 17-year-old Rifle High School senior said. “I’ve never really gotten much attention from anything else, so I’m just really trying to enjoy it right now.”

There’s been a lot to enjoy this season for Wagler, who has posted some of the best times of the year among Colorado’s prep cross country runners. His time of 15 minutes, 52.03 seconds at the Delta Invitational on Aug. 29 was not only good enough for fourth place in that meet, but it’s still good enough for the fifth-best time in all of Class 4A this year.

He’s been a runner to watch ever since, and that will definitely be the case today when the Bears host the annual Rifle Invitational cross country meet at Rifle Creek Golf Course.

“Everyone’s your friend when you run under 16 [minutes] at the beginning of the season,” Rifle coach Ben Bradley said. “People know who he is now.”

Wagler figures to be right in the thick of things when the Class 4A Western Slope Regional meet takes place next week in Delta — the same place where he ran the time that broke his previous personal-best event time by almost a full minute. On Tuesday, however, Wagler was quick to point out the winning time of 15:29 posted in Delta by last year’s regional and eventual state champion, Liam Meirow, adding that the person who wins the regional meet this year will probably have to run faster than that.

Getting to the point where he is right now, however, was a process for Wagler.

Wagler didn’t even consider running cross country when he first came to Rifle High. But a week into his freshman year, RHS graduate and former cross country runner Jake Statler convinced him to come out for the team — in a direct sense.

“He came to me at my locker and said, ‘You’re coming to practice today,’” Wagler said, laughing. “He didn’t really give me an option.”

Wagler ran with the team his freshman and sophomore years, but used it as more of a tool to stay in shape for basketball season. He went all in on running when he didn’t make the basketball team during his junior season, going out for track for the first time this past spring and eventually placing second in the Western Slope Regional meet in the 3,200 meters in 10:08.61 behind — who else? — Meirow.

He amped up his training in the summer, admitting that he once ran close to 60 miles in a week but couldn’t pinpoint an exact number for the whole summer. Then came cross country season, where he placed high in Delta, Glenwood (second, 16:58), and Basalt (second, 16:40). Delta’s course, by far, offers the fastest terrain of all of the courses he’s run this season.

Still, according to times provided on http://www.milesplit.com, Wagler owns the 21st-best time among all Colorado classifications and is the fifth best in 4A. The runner who owns the top time in 4A is Palmer Ridge senior Eric Hamer, who ran a 15:29 at the St. Vrain Cross Country Invitational on Sept. 6.

That hasn’t kept Wagler from setting his sights high.

“Liam is a great runner,” Wagler said of Meirow, who is now running at the University of Oklahoma. “But I want to be better than him. He’s a great runner, and I’ve learned a lot of things from him … running teaches you a lot about who you are. I’ve learned I’m capable of doing things I know I can do.”

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