PENASCO SENIOR HOPING FOR 2ND STRAIGHT STATE TITLE
When it comes to distance running, Gilbert Valdez is the one to catch in Class A-2A. He hasn’t lost a race this season and is motivated to perform after a COVID-shortened season his junior year. “I knew I really wanted to perform my senior year,” said Valdez. “I wasn’t too satisfied after everything that happened last year, so I really wanted to make sure I go out with a bang and so far I’m really pleased with how it’s going for me.”
Gilly won the Class A-2A state cross country title last season in a time of 17:04.78. He is out to better that time this week. “I definitely want to win it again,” said Gilly. “I want to run under 16 (minutes), that’s my goal. I don’t see why I can’t break 16, I feel really fit.”
At last season’s state track and field championships, Gilly finished first in the 800m and 1600 meter runs. He plans to go after repeat titles in the spring and chase the record mark of former Penasco runner Isaiah Rodarte. “I’d love to sweep, I’m also targeting the 1600m state record,” he said. “The person who holds it came from my school and is running at Adams State. He’s been a role model of mine. That’s definitely in my sights and I would love to get that one.”
Gilly first got into running in the seventh grade, found success early on, and just kept on running. “When I first started running, I hated it,” Gilly explained. “As I got fitter, I started enjoying it, being able to be outdoors and look around and enjoy where I was at. After my eighth grade year, I found success and it was really satisfying seeing all my hard work and everything I’ve done come together at the end and have a really good performance. That’s what made me fall in love with it.”
After high school, Gilly plans to run collegiately somewhere in Colorado, hopefully with another distance title and record to his name.