Cross-country: Local runners look for success at state finals

Vanessa Estrada speeds down a hill during her race Saturday. Estrada finished in second place.

When sophomore Diego Avila began the 2011 season on the Anzar High varsity cross-country squad, he never imagined he would race in the Central Coast Section championship, let alone the state championship.
Avila, along with teammate Diego Leon, will have that chance Saturday, as the young Anzar runner used a personal-best time at the CCS finals to earn a spot in the Division V California Interscholastic Federation State Cross Country Championship at Fresno’s Woodward Park.
“Well, this is the first time I’ve actually made CCS too, so state is pretty exciting,” Avila said next to Leon. “I was freaking out when I heard. Saturday, I’m a little nervous, though, so I might not do so well. I’m afraid this guy might beat me again.”
But to quell those nerves, Avila has spent additional time practicing for the race that he expects to be fast and intense, he said.
“Well I hope I break my time of 17:50,” Avila said. “I’m hoping to knock off half a minute. I want to at least not let the Crystal Springs guys beat me again.”
The junior Leon, who earned a spot in the state championship his freshman year, doesn’t have the same nerves, he said. Instead, Leon will just focus on the runners in front of him.
“When I was a freshmen, I was really nervous,” Leon said. “I’m not going to focus on my time, instead I’m going to focus on beating all the competition and staying in the lower 17s.”
Head coach Danny Lowell is excited to see just what his runners can do at the state level.
“It was nice to have two guys (go to state) and they beat everyone in our league (at the CCS finals),” he said. “These guys came in fifth and six (at CCS) and it has to be a confidence booster for them. It makes me excited to see what they can do at state.”
He continued, “It should be pretty good out there.”
San Benito
The CCS Division I finals ended in disappointing fashion for the Balers. All season, runners and coaches hoped to earn a berth in the state championship race. Instead the team will have to settle with sending Vanessa Estrada for the second year in a row.
The junior runner struggled in the CCS finals but escaped with a eighth place finish and a spot in the CIF state finals.
Estrada hopes to improve on her time from last year and is using her struggles at the CCS finals as motivation.
“I want to give everything I have because (Nov. 12), it was just a bad day for me,” she said. “It was the worst time I’ve ever ran. I know I can do better, and I just want to prove mostly myself that I just had a bad day.”
She continued: “I can improve and I want to P.R. (personal record) and stuff. I want to represent my team because I know we didn’t make it as a team.”
Her goal is to finish in the top 10, something she just missed out on last year.
“I feel like I want to show that I can do my best there,” she said.

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