Running in her first California Interscholastic Federation state championship for track and field – her third overall including two cross-country state finals – San Benito’s Vanessa Estrada just missed finishing inside the top-15 Saturday in Clovis.
As the only Baler running at Saturday’s state final, Estrada ended her season in 16th place with a time of 10:44.73 in the 3,200 meters.
Her running coach Jess Morales was happy with what he saw from Estrada.
“I was really impressed with her because she took it like Vanessa does,” Morales said on Monday. “She was in the top-5 for the first five or four laps.”
Estrada got off to a good start in the race, staying in the front pack for a majority it. Eventually, the race’s pace and physicality slowed her.
“I think she was overwhelmed with how many girls were in front of her and how many girls were getting boxed in,” Morales said. “There was pushing. There was a lot of pushing. I’ve never seen a state meet like this. There were a couple times I thought she was going to fall.”
Estrada was one of 30 state competitors in the race. Sarah Baxter from Simi Valley High won with a time of 10:12.
“She handled herself real well,” Morales said.
The race was so fast – and physical – Estrada lost count of the laps, Morales said.
“It happened so fast – that’s one thing she did tell me,” Morales said. “The rhythm was going too fast. She came in perfect in the first mile but she lost count of the laps. And by the time she knew – when they started announcing who was winning – it was too late. It’s what happens when you get bumped.”
The race ended an extremely successful season for Estrada, who finished in first place in all eight races in the 800 meters during the year. She also won the Tri-County Athletic League championship in the 800-meter, 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter races during the year. She broke the school record in all three races.
At the CCS finals, the San Benito junior ran in only the 3,200-meter race. By doing so, she improved her overall time by 13 seconds and ran a school-best 10:35.67.
“She had that drive,” Morales said. “After the race, she got emotional. She said, ‘It’s over. The race is over. I wish I could do it again so I can try it again.’”
During the cross-country season, Estrada earned a berth in the state finals as well. She finished in 17th place.
Estrada plans to run in the Golden West Invitational on June 9, Morales said. Estrada wants to run at the New Balance Nationals on June 14 through June 16 in North Carolina, but needs to raise funds.
To donate, contact Morales at 831-801-7138.