There was something out of place at the Labor Day Classic cross country meet, held the second weekend of the season at Palo Verde High School.
Among the hundreds of runners, coaches, parents and officials wandering everywhere, one young man didn’t quite look right. Oh, he had the lean build of a distance runner, and there was nothing unusual about his pre-race stretching. What caused the double-take was his wardrobe.
He was wearing a hunter green sweatshirt with “Beatty High School cross country” emblazoned in white.
That’s not supposed to be there. Beatty High School does not have a cross country team.
In a way, it still doesn’t, except by using a rather loose definition of team. The Hornets have not fielded a cross country team for some time, but when you have a talented distance runner who already has made a splash on the national level and aspires to run at a university known nationally for its track program, you make a team.
Meet the 2018 Beatty High School cross country team: Jose Granados, who has a simple goal for the fall season.
“Be the state champ,” he said after that race at Palo Verde. No hesitation, no deep thought, no equivocation.
That’s the way the Beatty High School junior is. Modest yet confident, he knows he has the talent, but he’s not the type to rest on his immense ability and expect it to carry him. He’s willing to put in the work to maximize that talent, and he knows that, too.
Just one thing: Granados never ran cross country before August. Never. Not once.
Starting a one-man team
Granados’ father, Julio, helped get the ball rolling at Beatty, which has not fielded a cross country team for 13 years or so, according to former coach Jerry Adcox, who is helping coach Granados this season.
“I talked to Jason Odegard, that started last year, and he contacted Leo Verzilli, who is the Beatty athletic director, and they had to make an account for Jose just to get cross country, because cross country is not in Beatty,” Julio Granados recalled. “Before school started this year, I got hold of Jason again, and he’s the one who made sure we had all of the right stuff to get cross country going in the right direction. After that, it was pretty simple.”
“All that really had to happen was that Beatty High School just had to recognize they were going to have runners, whether it be just Jose or if there were several of them,” said Odegard, Pahrump Valley High School’s athletic administrator. “I told them they need to identify that they had a team and register for the meets as Beatty High School. It wasn’t a big deal.”
“He wanted to run cross country to get him ready for track, and we didn’t have a cross country team, so we made a cross country team, which is him,” Verzilli said. “You have to run under a school. We went ahead and did it, and it’s gotten him into some meets already, and that’s fantastic.”
And it was his father who was responsible for the sweatshirt Granados likes so much he wore it to Beatty’s homecoming football game.
“I went out and got them made myself,” the elder Granados said. “I’m pretty sure everybody who knows me knows I’m obsessed with Nike.”
There was also a practical side to running cross country.
“Instead of me going to college just to do track, I can do cross country as well,” Jose Granados said. “My number-one goal right now is to try and get to the University of Oregon.”
A different kind of training
Adcox puts Granados through some intense workouts, and Granados loves every minute of it.
“In track, you’re on the flat, and while you put a lot of miles on them to build a firm foundation and a pyramid base, you stress speed much more,” Adcox explained. “cross country is significantly different in that the base has to be much more intense. You’re running 5,000 meters, which is 3.1 miles. You’re running over obstacles, you’re running on hills, over pavement, on grass, all kinds of footing.
“You’ll do 20 to 25 miles weekly for track, but in the 30s and 40s for cross country. Some programs actually do much, much more. A fortunate thing for us is we have so many hills and so many hilly roads.”
“He drops me off at Rhyolite and I run, I think it’s six miles, but it’s all uphill,” Granados said. “Then, once you get past this big hill, it’s all downhill. It’s tough on the legs, and he has me run a lot of trails that have inclines in them. And I usually run a trail around Beatty that has a lot of bumps and stuff like that, getting ready for the next meet.”
“There is a place in Titus Canyon where you have an increase in elevation of 2,500 feet in a mile, and it’s nothing but switchbacks,” Adcox said. “I took him out there a couple of weeks ago and dropped him off at the bottom of the path, and I went to the top. It’s a little over a mile to get to the top, and it was a meaningful experience for him.
“When he got to the top, he looked down the canyon and he looked over the edge, and you can see the ghost town of Leadfield, which is about five miles away. I told him, ‘I’ll see you in Leadfield,’ and I left. And he loves that kind of thing.”
A very coachable runner
Nobody who knows Granados seems surprised by any of this.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete when it comes to running, and he enjoys the heck out of it,” Verzilli said. “We’re out there at football practice and Jose is out there doing his stretches and then runs, and he’s gone for an hour.”
“His typical regimen is we’ll start practice running a full mile,” Adcox said. “Run lightly, not jog. Then he spends about 15 minutes stretching, warming up, doing a bunch of drills that we have. Then he’ll start whatever the workout is.
“Sometimes it’s a 10- or 12-mile run, sometimes he’ll run a mile for time. After that, two 800s. The first two laps had to be below a certain number, and in the second 800 he ran, both laps had to be faster. Then he did another mile cooldown, and then the stretching all over again.”
Adcox, who is in his second year of retirement after teaching and coaching at Beatty for 25 years, said Granados is the type of athlete that makes a coach eager to get up in the morning and get to work.
“Jose is such a wonderful kid to coach,” he said. “He’s dedicated. He works his butt off. He never falters when you give him an assignment. One of the runs I have for him is to run from the high school over toward Rhyolite, then you turn off the road and go past the gun range to the airport. From the airport to the highway, U.S. 95, then over the mountain back to Beatty. That’s a 13-mile run, and every time he runs it he improves.”
Granados opened his first cross country season with a bang. At the Newcomer Boys race at the Red Rock Running Company Invitational on Aug. 25 at Floyd Lamb Park in Las Vegas, Granados covered the 3,072-meter course in 10 minutes, 2 seconds, beating out Legacy’s Romelow Turner to win by 33 seconds.
He followed that up by taking 14th in the Labor Day Classic at Palo Verde High School, 10th in the Larry Burgess-Las Vegas Invitational at Sunset Park and third in a Pahrump Valley Weekday meet at Discovery Park. Most recently, Granados placed 13th in the Varsity race at the UNLV Invitational in Lake Las Vegas.
His time of 18:02 at the Pahrump Valley Weekday meet is his best 5K time of the fall, and it ranks first in Class 1A South and third in Class 1A overall. At No. 1 is a familiar name: Jared Marchegger of Sierra Lutheran, whom Granados squeaked past to win the 800 and 1,600 at last spring’s Class 1A state championships. Marchegger bested Granados in the 3,200.
“He’s improving in every meet, and so far the only ones to beat him are 4A kids and some 3A kids,” Adcox said.
Adcox said that Granados’ athletic ability is such that nothing he does should be much of a surprise.
“He’s 6-2, about 165-170 pounds,” he said. “This spring he’ll be doing track again, and like last year he’ll also be pole vaulting. I was able to work with him for two weeks last year, and he took fourth at state as a sophomore. He’s a tremendous basketball player. If he wasn’t in cross country, he’d be an excellent football player, too.
“I honestly can’t enough good things about him.”
As if to prove that point, Adcox offers this:
“He’s very smart,” said Adcox, who had a freshman Granados in one of his classes during his last year of teaching. “He’s well-versed in his studies, he works really hard, he gets good grades. He will most certainly be on the short list for colleges and universities. … He’s the kind of young athlete, especially in this day and age, that colleges and universities love to get their hands on. I’m a decent coach, but he deserves a better coach. And I think they’ll be lining up for him.”
Contact Sports Editor Tom Rysinski at firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter:@PVTimesSports