Andy deGanahl wasn't lost. He was invited.
On Saturday, while his Soroco teammates competed at Eagle Valley, deGanahl was alone at the Runners Roost Invitational in Denver.
Mullen High School extended an invitation to deGanahl because the two-time state champion in the 200 and 400 meters is the state's premier sprinter in Class 2A.
On Saturday, the Soroco senior proved he is one of the state's best 400-meter runners, regardless of school size, by taking fourth in the open 400 at Mullen High School.
His time of 49.85 seconds wasn't his personal best and was more than a full second behind winner Jeremy Dodson of George Washington, who finished in 48.21, but deGanahl learned that he belonged among the state's elite.
Five of the top six finishers in the 400 were from Class 5A schools.
"It was pretty exciting, for sure," he said. "They are in a completely different realm, but I was able to stick with them. I was going to consider myself lucky if I placed."
Soroco track and field coach Gary Heide didn't see the race because he was with the full team at Eagle Valley, but he heard recounts from deGanahl.
"He did real well," Heide said. "As far as his place, it was fantastic. He was fourth out of 32 runners."
Heide and deGanahl spoke before he left for Denver, and the pair knew deGanahl would have to get out of the blocks
fast, which isn't any different than his typical race strategy. However, the Soroco senior usually relaxes on the backstretch. On Saturday, however, he discovered there is no easing up at the top.
"I didn't have the opportunity," he said. "We were cruising. Then, coming around the corner, I was in lane 2 and pulled up to most of them and was sitting third. Then I totally ran out of steam and held on for fourth."
The lesson: more conditioning. DeGanahl said he could count on one hand the number of times he has trained on a track this season. He just wasn't in shape to hang with the state's elite for the final 60 to 80 meters.
"He was forced to run the first 300 at a different level," Heide said. "He admitted he'd never run that fast because he hasn't had to. We have to get him conditioned in the next month."
DeGanahl also ran in the open 200 meters but did not make the finals, though he did run a season-best 22.80. The time would have been good enough to place had he advanced to the finals, but he did not advance out of his preliminary heat. The winning time was 21.65.
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