Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
Jerry McBride/Durango Herald
For a distance runner, Joe Maloney has cleared a lot of hurdles.
The Durango High School senior cleared another big one this week when he signed his National Letter of Intent to run for Weber State University in Utah.
“It’s a huge relief,” Maloney said after putting his name on the official documents in a signing ceremony at DHS with his parents, grandparents and Durango cross country and track and field head coach David McMillan.
“The signing isn’t so much a relief, but it was ... informing the other coaches,” said Maloney, who admitted it was difficult to turn down the other running offers.
“I was really nervous about doing that ... that was the most nerve-wracking thing,” he said.
Maloney was drawn by the combination of Weber State’s coaching staff, the school’s location in Ogden, Utah, and its academic offerings.
“The academics, the location ... I wanted to get out of Colorado,” said Maloney, son of Melissa and Murdoch Maloney.
“When I looked at how Joe has evolved ... as a distance runner, I thought Paul (Pilkington) and his program would be a good fit,” said McMillan, who took over the DHS cross country program this season. McMillan formerly coached cross country and track in the Salt Lake City area.
“I think Joe will be a good 5K/10K runner as he grows into his body and gets stronger,” said McMillan, who watched Maloney step onto the podium with a sixth-place finish at the CHSAA Class 4A Cross Country State Championships last fall in Colorado Springs.
“I’ve known Paul (the Weber State cross country/track coach) for quite a few years,” McMillan said.
Pilkington, the DHS coach said, has a special knack for developing runners such as Maloney.
“Joe handled our step up in distance last summer, and he handled the slightly higher mileage in the fall,” McMillan said. “The ... longer distances (of college running) will be a natural progression.”
Maloney, a four-time qualifier for the state cross country meet and a three-time qualifer for the state track meet (with one high school track season to go), said he plans to redshirt his first year at Weber State.
“That will give me transition time from the high school level,” Maloney said.
“The coach (Pilkington) and I have talked. I know I’m going to have to start building up mileage,” said Maloney, who finished eighth in the 4A state 1,600-meter run last spring, one spot better than he finished the same race at state a year earlier.
He’d love another school record, perhaps in the 1,600.
“I definitely think I can go forward in the mile,” Maloney said. “And I want to take some of our relays to state. We barely missed the 4x8 (4x800) last year. I think we have the potential this year.”
McMillan said Maloney has the right stuff to compete at the college level.
“He’s a hard worker. He doesn’t shortchange anything,” McMillan said. “He does the drills; he lifts weights. He set a good platform on the indoor season to run fast outdoors.”
McMillan hinted there might be another hurdle in Maloney’s future.
“Steeplechase, maybe?” the DHS coach said.
Durango Herald file photo