GREEN RIVER – Marcos Valerio was half asleep when he found out that he had a chance to continue his running career at the college level. The Green River High School senior has been barreling toward that accomplishment ever since he burst onto the scene his junior season, but it didn’t become a reality until just a couple months before graduation.

As Valerio continued to get stronger on the track, as well as on the cross-country courses, he really started to turn some heads his junior year. He had multiple colleges interested in him, but it was Scott Walkinshaw, head cross-country coach at Black Hills State University, that showed the most interest.

“I got a call one night about nine o’clock, so I was like half asleep. That kind of started the whole process of talking to (Walkinshaw) and then I decided to go on my college visit,” Valerio said. “After that, I was just in. I wanted to go there. I had teammates there, too, and they really liked it.”

Valerio will have a full plate when he arrives in Spearfish, South Dakota, later this summer. On top the of difference in course work, he has signed to run cross-country, plus indoor and outdoor track for the Yellow Jackets.

During his high school career, Valerio has been a state placer in all three sports. His best results came at indoor state track and field this year, as he took third in the 3,200-meter run and fifth in the mile. He also notched an seventh-place finish at state cross-country to go along with another seventh place in the 800 during outdoor track season.

To take on that kind of load, you have to have a legitimate passion for running, which isn’t easy to find. Valerio has ran track and cross-country ever since he was old enough to compete, and with the help of some great training partners, he has never lost his drive for the sport.

“I love the competition, that’s probably my favorite and then running with friends and teammates is always fun times,” Valerio said. “This means a lot. I’ve always enjoyed running, so I feel like there’s nothing more I’d rather want to do in college than go run somewhere.”

Fortunately, Valerio will have the opportunity to continue running in great places and with great people at Black Hills State, too.

“There’s a lot of trails and outdoor stuff there, so I won’t be cooped up in a college dorm the whole time,” he said. “The location, the town, and the school is really nice.”

On top of having the chance to explore the Black Hills and enjoy all those trails, Valerio be reuniting with one of his good friends. Braden Reichl, also a GRHS graduate, was one of the state’s top distance runners when Valerio was a sophomore, which was also about the time that Valerio really started to push himself to become great.

Reichl was able to give Valerio a good recommendation about the running programs at Black Hills State and he’ll also provide a great training partner in the offseason. Valerio will have a workout program from his coaches to follow, and Reichl will be right by his side, as the two prepare in Green River for the long upcoming season.

“I’m going to run with an old partner/friend that helped me to get to the college level, so I can get the difference between high school and college running,” Valerio said. “I definitely (need) more mileage. I need to get used to all the running they do in college – double what I’m doing now. Summer training will be the last step in what I need.”

Although Valerio’s strong work ethic should push him to a productive summer, his high school coaches already have great confidence in what he can do at the next level. Dan Hanson, head coach of the track and field team at GRHS, said that staying healthy may be his only road block to success, while cross-country coach Craig Leavitt thinks its all about gaining confidence against the bigger competition.

“I think he’s ready. It’s the confidence that he needs now,” Leavitt said. “He’s just a good kid and a hard worker. He’s worked hard for this for four years now and he deserves to go on to the college level.”

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