First time turns out to be a charm for Rifle High grad
Post Independent Sports Editor
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Winning the 5-kilometer Strawberry Shortcut race on Sunday was the furthest thing from Jeovanni Mendez’s mind going into the race. Running the race at all wasn’t even a high priority early last week.
“A couple of my friends wanted to do it,” the 2010 Rifle High graduate said after convincingly winning the race. “I figured why not. It sounded like fun.”
Mendez, who just finished his sophomore season at Ottawa University, an NAIA school in Ottawa, Kan., crossed the finish line first in 16 minutes, 59 seconds. That was nearly a full minute ahead of the second-place finisher, five-time 5K winner Jason Graham of Northglenn, who finished the race in 17:59.
Luke Smith, a 20-year-old from Basalt, took third in 18:34, with Kellen Fockler, this year’s 10K winner, finishing fourth in 19:09.
“I knew there were going to be some real good runners here,” said Mendez, an exercise science major who was running the race for the first time. “I sure wasn’t expecting to win it.”
Mendez, who attended Colorado Mountain College for a year after graduating from Rifle, has built himself up into a decent runner. His winning time in the 5K Shortcut wasn’t anywhere close to his personal-best time in the event, which came during the 5K in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships in February, when he ran a 15:48.39.
“It’s a win, though, so I guess I’ll take it,” Mendez said. “Next year when I come back, I’ll have a better idea of what the course looks like. That way I can go for my best time when I’m running here again.”
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