(photo courtesy of Liam Jamieson)
MileSplitCA offered seniors a platform to share their stories and experiences either in Q&A format or story form. This is one in that series. Click here for details on how to share your story.
School: Loyola High School
Q: What was your most memorable race/moment?
- My most memorable moment was my sophomore year at the state meet. It was my first cross country season, and I managed to get a spot as an alternate for the varsity team. After a disappointing fourth place finish at CIF Finals, my team had the race of their lives and won the Division II state meet. I remember standing with my team at the finish line as we waited for the results to come out; some of us thought we did it, others thought we came in second, no one was sure. As the official scores came out, we jumped up and down with joy, astonished that we won and that everything came together so perfectly. I was so proud of my teammates who ran that day, and they all inspired me so much to compete at the state meet like they had.
- Honestly, my biggest competition were usually my teammates. Coming from one of the deepest teams in the state -- my junior year we had 11 kids run sub 9:50 in the 3200 -- I felt the most pressure and competition from my teammates. The goal of even making top seven in cross country was incredibly challenging -- over summer time-trials I ranged from finishing as first man all the way to 12th man -- so I constantly felt the pressure and competition from my teammates. Of course, all this pressure pushed us to be the best we could be, and there were never any hard feelings because of it.
- My greatest accomplishment was my 3200 race my senior year at Arcadia. I was in the slowest 3200 heat, and although all of the entries were in the low 9:30s range, I knew from looking at past years that the atmosphere and excitement of Arcadia allows kids to get some big PRs. So I made it my plan to hang in the front pack and not get detached, and knew that a PR would come. So when the gun went off, I felt comfortable because I knew what I had to do. After leading on and off all race, I was in third with a lap to go. I felt confident, and after closing in a 62 last lap, I won the heat in 9:18 -- a 10 second PR. I then went on two weeks later to run my best of 9:16 at Mt. SAC Relays. But the Arcadia race was the most memorable because I executed in the race exactly how I had hoped to, and what greater event to do it at than the Arcadia Invitational.
- If I could do it all over again, I first would have started running at the beginning of freshman year. I joined in the middle of freshman track season, and because I jumped right in to mid-season training, I got injured for practically the whole season and was not able to fully take advantage of my freshman year of running. But probably more importantly, I would have tried to over-think things less. Primarily my sophomore and junior year, racing would make me anxious, and I would overthink everything so much that it would impede my racing. By senior year, I learned to trust my training and tell myself I have prepared all I can for whatever race it was, now all I had to do was get the race done -- no pressure. If I could go back and tell my younger self something, it would be to not worry, be patient, and that everything you want to happen will happen, just give it time.
- A big obstacle I had to overcome was pushing my personal goals and worries aside for the goals of my team. My junior year I struggled to stay in the top seven, and became a selfish runner. I cared far more about my own goal of toeing the line at the state meet than what was best for my team, regardless of whether that meant I would run at state or not. After that season and into my senior cross country season, I put the goals of the team in front of my own goals, and luckily I learned that the two often went hand in hand; by achieving my personal goals, I was helping out the team at the same time.
- I'll absolutely miss Coach Lalo Diaz and my teammates the most. With Diaz having coached so many legendary runners that our whole team looks up to -- David Torrence, Elias Gedyon, Robert Brandt, and the list goes on -- Diaz knows what works. He knows how to perfectly balance fun with work. His coaching speaks for itself when Loyola has consistently had incredibly talented runners year after year after year. Secondly, I will miss my teammates. Having five other seniors on the varsity team with me this year, we have been through everything together. Starting as freshmen and rising through the ranks, these five guys (Shane Bissell, Brandon Cobian, Corey Kumamoto, Joshua Ma, and David McAndrews) have been by my side every step of the way. Having five other seniors who are all so close in times and talent has allowed us to push each other to the best of our abilities. These guys have been my best friends on and off of the track through all of high school, and I could not have gotten to where I am today without them.
- The advice I would give to younger athletes is to have fun with it. Spending all your time stressing and getting anxious about running will ruin the beauty of the sport. Enjoy every practice, race, team get-together, and everything in between.
- Coach Diaz always reminds us after tough races and losses that the running we do now and what seems so important to us now -- victories, state titles, NXN bids -- are minuscule parts of our life that won't matter a few years down the road. What running teaches us is strength -- strength that we can use for the rest of our lives. He reminds us that all of the work we put in our running now will stick with us for our whole lives, even if it manifests itself in non-athletic ways. If we have challenges in the future with our academics, with our jobs, with our families, what we have learned through our running will help us persevere and face challenges that will occur in the future, challenges that will actually mean something, not who won an invitational or who had a better race that one day.
- I will be running on the Cross Country and Track teams at Dartmouth College.
- I would like to say thank you to my parents for their unwavering support and to all of the other coaches of the Loyola cross country and track teams: Dr. Phil Bland, Wayne Brandt, Mickey DiPaulo, Brian Duff, Dr. Frank Meza, and Michael Porterfield, to name a few. Lastly, I would like to thank Milesplit for this opportunity to share my story and hopefully aide or inspire others reading this.
- Thank you Loyola! Go Cubs!