Derek Laue thought his days of running with a team might be coming to an end.
The former Bayfield High School cross country and track standout finished his prep season at the Colorado State Track and Field Championships in Lakewood last spring.
He launched into his regular summer running routine, including a stellar second-place finish in the Steamworks Animas Valley Half-Marathon in June.
I didnt expect to go anywhere (to run in college), Laue said in an interview this week. There are so many good runners out there, I ... didnt think Id get a chance.
Coach Ken Flint of Fort Lewis College changed all that when he signed the Bayfield High School graduate to run with the cross country Skyhawks this fall.
I like Ken Flint. Hes a fun guy. I was excited (when Flint offered him a chance to run at FLC), Laue said.
Im really excited. There are a lot of fast guys up there, and Im looking forward to it, said Laue, who has been resting a minor knee ailment of late.
Im really pleased Derek is joining us, Flint said. Hes the real deal. Hes one of the top local runners weve had.
Flint said hes optimistic Laue can make the transition to the longer distances of college cross country after running the 5K distance in high school.
He has that great work ethic. He can do the mileage. Hes the kind of runner who can grind for a long time, Flint said.
The longer college distances (8K and 10K) could prove to be a benefit to Laue, Flint said.
I do enjoy running, Laue said. Im not really sure about the longer distances. But Ive done a couple 10Ks over the summer.
He said the opportunity to run in the powerful Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference alongside national powers Adams State, Western State and Colorado School of Mines is an added to bonus to joining the Fort Lewis program.
Thatll be interesting ... seeing all those talented runners, Laue said.
Laue was among a group of five athletes that Flint added to the Skyhawks program. The additional five brings his recruiting numbers to 13 for the new year.
Laue joins the call after finishing eighth in the Class 3A State Cross Country Championships last fall.
He placed fourth in the 3,200 and the 1,600 in the state track meet last spring.
He was a four-time state qualifier as a BHS Wolverines.
Also joining the FLC team will be Dominick Bitsui from Navajo Prep in Farmington. He was ninth in the Class 3A New Mexico State Cross Country Championships.
Dominick comes from a school that prepares their kids well for the jump to college, Flint said. Sampson Sage and Kaydee McCray were Navajo Prep products who graduated and ran for us. Both cracked out top 10 all-time lists.
Walter Delwiche from Aztec High School, captain of his prep team, was a New Mexico state qualifier in track and cross country.
Greg LeBlanc from Wood River High School in Hailey, Idaho, will run for the Fort Lewis this year.
He competed in track for four years and cross country for two years. He also was the team captain for both squads.
I believe Greg will make huge strides in his running times while at the Fort, Flint said. He has the right attitude in his approach.
Jaclin Guthrie from McDowell High School in Bowling Green, Ohio, also signed to run for FLC.
There will be an adjustment period for Jaclin as she gets used to the elevation of Colorado, Flint said. She is very dedicated to running though, so once she adapts I believe she can have impact for us.
The Fort Lewis College cross country teams will open the fall season Sept. 11 at the Joe Vigil Invitational in Alamosa.