TORRINGTON – Aydan Loya got a taste of success as a junior, and he desired to experience more of that during his senior year.
His hard work over the summer paid off, winning multiple cross country races and becoming the first Torrington High School cross country runner to finish in the top five at the 3A State Cross Country Championships in more than 20 years in October.
“It all started last year when I got a taste of victory,” Loya said. “It really motivated me to keep on going and made me realize what I can do. I trained really hard over the summer and put in as many miles as I could.
“It showed this season, and I’m thankful I had all these people to help me out,” Loya added pointing to Mark Sims, Kelsey Grant, Gerald Wilmoth and Joe Wilson.
On Tuesday, the Blazer distance runner signed to continue his athletic career at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota next fall.
“I’ve talked to many people about that I’ve been thinking about going there, and every single person said it is a really great place,” Loya said. “I haven’t heard anything bad about it.”
So, he decided to make an official visit early in December, and Loya felt like it was going to be the best fit for him.
“I liked the facilities. The coaches were nice. The teammates were cool,” he said. “I felt like it fit me the best.”
Loya plans to run both cross country and track for the Yellow Hornets.
“It’ll be fun. I’m pretty excited,” Loya said. “It’ll be nice to work with other people and see what other ideas I can learn from.”
THS track coach Mark Sims attributes his success to Loya buying into what the coaches were trying to do for him and for believing in himself.
“He started out slow, but he turned into a leader on the field and off the field. He’s had four great years,” he said. “He’s started to buy in more and believe in what we were doing and for himself. He finally recognized he is the guy.”
After the success during the cross country season, Sims said Loya has set himself up for a successful indoor and outdoor season as his senior year comes to a close.
“He’s looking really good right now, and I expect big things from him for indoor and outdoor track,” Sims said.
The indoor season begins Saturday, Jan. 14 in Casper at Natrona County High School.
Loya isn’t sure what he’ll major in yet at Black Hills State but is leaning toward business.
“It’s been fun, and I want to give a shoutout to Mark Sims who has helped me throughout this process and all the other coaches who have trained me.”