Durango High School’s ‘Fab Four’ competed together one final time last weekend at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina, and while they narrowly missed out on bringing home All-American status, they did come home with plenty of memories.
Aidan Fitzgerald, Noah Bodewes, Marcus Flint and Luke Tichi competed in two relays, and Fitzgerald also fared well in the mile.
The four set the state meet record at last month’s Colorado High School Activities Association’s Class 4A 4x800 relay, but were unable to duplicate success in high heat and humidity. In their signature event, they fell short of their mark, as they finished in 24th out 38 teams and crossed the finish line in 8 minutes, 3.64 seconds.
It was more than 12 seconds slower than their record-breaking time at state, which was 7:48.60. It was the second-slowest 4x800 race they had ran all season, and it came at the biggest stage.
Ridge Runners, based in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, won the race in 7:38.48, while the Warrior Project of North Carolina took second in 7:42.47 and Novi Track and Field of Greater Detroit rounded out the top three with a finish in 7:42.32.
“Mentally, I feel like we checked out after the first leg of the race; we were kind of just in shock, really,” said Aidan Fitzgerald, who ran the anchor leg. “Getting the baton in last, it’s pretty tricky, especially when you see the time because you know that you’re not on pace to run your best or your personal record or anything like that. I was watching this thing unfold and thought that it might have been an off-day for everyone.”
When I looked up at the clock, I saw that it was 6:09 and thought, ‘I have to set the world record to even get back into that range,’ and I was able to chase down some kids at the end. Definitely not the finish we wanted, but we went out there the next day and had a much better showing.”
The quad also competed in their first 4xmile relay, which is where had their best performance of the weekend.
Durango had a top-10 finish and were four spots off of the All-American podium, as they crossed the finish line in 10th place in 17:50.86.
Christian Brothers of New jersey won the race in 17:20.14, Deluge of New York was second in 17:26.98 and Bishop Hendricken of Rhode Island was third in 17:27.93.
“The next day, we ran slightly better but were well off any chance of competing, which was disappointing because we really wanted an All-American status to bring back home,” Fitzgerald said. “I think after the 4x800, this realization set in on how competitive nationals really was, and I think our mindset switched from, ‘Let’s compete to win’ to ‘let’s compete for a top-six.’ It was tough to regroup and figure out, how do we come back from this the next day. We did good, and while it wasn’t our fastest times, it was still a solid effort.”
It was the first time that Durango had a relay team represented at a national meet. The last time a Durango High runner advanced to this stage was in 2016 when David Moenning placed 9th in the 800 in 1:51.75.
Fitzgerald wrapped up his high school career with a fifth-place finish in his heat in the mile in 4:18, which was is the 11th best time in the nation.
Three out of the four will begin training for the next level in a matter of weeks, as Fitzgerald, Bodewes and Flint will be running in college. Fitzgerald will be attending the University of Portland, Bodewes will stay in Colorado to run at Colorado State University and Flint will be running for Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Tichi will be a key returner next year for the Demons, as he will be a senior at DHS.