Grand Junction’s Medina ready for state cross country meet
Grand Junction High School cross country runner Charlie Medina always considered himself more of a football and baseball player.
Maybe, though, he was born to run.
Medina’s time of 17 minutes, 24 seconds at last week’s Region 1 cross country meet qualified him for Saturday’s Class 5A state cross country meet at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds in Aurora.
“I heard he was a football player last year and that was shocking to me,” Grand Junction coach Mallory Schmalz said, “because he’s such a fantastic runner.”
Although Medina was always attracted more to team sports, running is in his blood.
Medina is the younger brother of Richard and Martin Medina, who both run cross country at the University of Colorado.
The elder Medinas also ran cross country for Grand Junction High School. Richard won the 2006 state meet and finished second in 2005. Martin finished third at state in 2007.
“They think it’s funny because they never through I’d be a runner,” Charlie Medina said. “But they tell me to do my best and not to cheat.”
Medina said he watched Richard and Martin run in almost every meet they had, but still never imagined he’d be wearing a cross country uniform.
Medina, a sophomore, didn’t run cross country as a freshman.
“As a little kid watching them was cool, but I never thought I’d be running,” Medina said. “But last summer I started running and it felt right.”
Schmalz first noticed Medina during the team’s summer runs, and could tell early on the sophomore had the potential for big things.
“He came out and was a really strong runner,” Schmalz said. “I never met his brothers but people said he runs like his brothers and has the same style body.
“But he also works really hard at practice and is really focused.”
Medina said he’s shooting to finish in less than 17 minutes in the state meet. Medina has already shaved roughly 11⁄2 minutes off his time this season, and isn’t done.
“It’s going to take a lot of focus and discipline,” Medina said. “But I’ve been smart about my training and I think I’m just about to hit my peak.”
Joining Medina in the boys race is Fruita Monument sophomore Kyler Brown. The Wildcats’ lone qualifier for state finished eighth in the Region 3 race last week. Brown turned in a time of 16:57 to qualify for his first state meet.
Palisade’s Katie Mueller qualified for the girls Class 4A state championships. The freshman finished ninth in last week’s regional in Cortez in 22:06.
“My goal is to make the top 30 at state,” Mueller said. “I just have to keep running like I have been and not get caught up in the hype.”
Montrose’s Dana Shellhorn, who finished seventh in 21:45, will join Mueller in the 4A girls race.
In the 4A boys race, Delta’s Daniel De La Rosa, Josh Walker and Jacob Ames all finished in the top 15 in regionals to qualify.
In 3A, two Western Slope runners should be near the top, Hotchkiss freshman Natalie Anderson and Grand Valley senior Brandi Krieg.
Anderson won the 3A regional at Cortez in 21:26. Krieg finished in eighth, but placed fifth in last year’s state meet.
“I know (Natalie) would like to be in the top 10,” Hotchkiss coach Kelly Cowan said. “That’s what she’s shooting for.”
The state meet begins with the Class 2A girls at 9:30 a.m. and the 5A boys finishing up the races at 1 p.m.