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WALNUT — Hall’s Al Baldondado has shown he can keep some incredible paces already this cross country season, including a time of 15:42 last week in his second-place finish at the Princeton Invitational.
Turns out, even he has his limits.
Baldonado led the way for area runners Saturday at the Bureau Valley Invitational in Walnut, racing to a seventh-place finish in 16:28. But while the Red Devil senior was happy with his top-10 performance in the field of 219 runners, he felt too fast of a start led to a slower-than-expected time.
“I was tired before we even got to the first mile. I think I just started out too fast. I just need to calm down at the start,” Baldondado said. “I wasn’t anticipating the Alleman kid (race winner Zach Hird of Alleman) to stay up there. I thought he was going to die back. Then I realized he wasn’t going to die off, so I pushed too hard to keep up in the first half and didn’t have anything left at the end.”
The Hall standout said he will work on holding back early.
“I’ve got to learn how to calm down at the beginning because I can’t keep up,” he said. “They are just sprinting at the start. I need to learn to work and build up into it rather than go all-out and taper off.”
Sandro Aldano added a 52nd-place run to help the Red Devils finish 11th in the team standings with 275 points.
Joining Baldonado with a top-10 finish was Fieldcrest junior Levi Schmillen, who made a late charge on the final mile to finish 10th at 16:36. The Knights finished 16th in the team standings.
“I came into this hoping for top 20. I knew it was a fast field,” Schmillen said. “It means a lot. Last year I was sixth in the fresh-soph. To finish in the top 10 in varsity is all I could hope for.
“I had to get out fast because it was such a big field with small turns and whatnot, so I had to get out there and then slow down, hold pace as much as I could and pass as many people as possible.”
The tandem of Daniel Trone (41st, 17:45) and Kane Eastwood (43rd, 17:49) led the way for host Bureau Valley, and the Storm pack of Colton Peterson (61st 18:24.5), Andrew Smith (62nd, 18:24.8) and Yulian Osorio (63rd, 18:25) crashed into the chute hot on each others’ heels to help the Storm finish sixth in the team standings.
Trevor Wiley led Henry-Midland with a 38th-place finish at 17:39. The Timberducks finished 22nd in the team competition.
Ben Hosto paced Amboy-LaMoille with a 60th-place finish at 18:23. A-L did not field a full team. Neither did Mendota, which was led by Lukas Brandner (103rd, 19:16), Princeton, which was paced by Alex Biggs (160th, 20:52), or DePue, which had a top finish from 117th-place Miguel Lopez (19:42).
Alleman’s Hird posted a wininng time of 15:35, and the Pioneers topped Newman 52-104 to take the team title.
Notes: A pair of the area’s top senior runners sat out Saturday’s meet with injuries. BV’s No. 1 runner Ryan Taylor, who was 14th last year, was on the sidelines with a foot injury, while Henry-Midland’s top runner Alex Pettis, who finished 10th in 2012, sat out the meet as a precautionary measure due to a leg strain.
Chris Yucus can be reached at 220-6995 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsChris.