Community College: Monroy a running breakthrough

Christian Monroy, a 2014 Anzar High graduate, has overcome injuries at Hartnell College to earn a scholarship to run at Eastern New Mexico University.

Christian Monroy never ran track while he prepped at Anzar High, graduating from the San Juan Bautista school in 2014. But the Hartnell College sophomore showed just how far he’s come when he signed his letter of intent last week to run cross country and track at Eastern New Mexico University.
“I could dream but never thought this was possible,” said Monroy, who did four years of cross country at Anzar, finishing 17th in the Division V race of the Central Coast Section Championships during his junior year and ninth as a senior.
Monroy won’t be going to the Division II program in East Portales alone. In fact, Monroy will have plenty of company, as five of his Hartnell teammates also signed with ENMU, including his girlfriend, Nancy Rodriguez.
“It’s going to be great having Nancy right there with me,” he said.
The 5-foot-7, 125-pound Monroy has overcome numerous injuries during his career, especially at Hartnell. Monroy competed in only seven to eight races in two years of running cross country at Hartnell, and he ran in only one race during the track season as a freshman. This season, Monroy has been one of the team’s top athletes on the track squad, establishing a personal-record (PR) in all of his events.
The list of Monroy’s PRs include a 16 minute, 13 second mark in the 5000-meter run, a 4:14 in the 1500 and a 2:05 in the 800. Not bad for someone who puked in the first couple of workouts in the summer before his freshman season.
“I wasn’t in ideal shape for summer training,” said Monroy, who ran the 10K race in the Coast Conference Championships Wednesday and will be competing in the 5K on Saturday. “Back then I would drink a lot of Monster (energy drinks) and soda. I learned the hard way that is not what you’re supposed to do if you want to run your best. All that stuff kind of made me dizzy. I haven’t drank a Monster since.”
Chris Zepeda, the renowned cross country and track and field coach at Hartnell, vividly remembers Monroy’s struggles early in his career.
“The first couple of runs he did with us, he was puking and (former Hartnell standout) Diego (Avila) was kind of laughing at him,” Zepeda said. “But Christian was willing to push himself in conditioning and put in time doing the proper work. You’re starting to see the benefits of that hard work.”
Monroy didn’t have an ideal path to ENMU, as he applied to the university in January because he really didn’t have other options at the time. But Monroy received his letter of acceptance before Rodriguez got hers. However, it was only after ENMU track and field coach Danielle Kcholi had a conversation with Rodriguez that jump-started the process of Monroy earning a partial scholarship (Monroy will get to pay in-state tuition his first year at ENMU, with the chance of earning a bigger scholarship if his times go down).
“She asked Nancy if I was interested in running for the school,” Monroy said. “At the time, I was thinking, ‘Does she really want me to run for her?’ Coach Z talked with her, and that’s how it all got started. It definitely came out of the blue.”
Monroy also had a similar feeling of wonderment when Zepeda messaged him through Facebook about possibly running at Hartnell.
“It motivated me to give it a try because someone wanted me to run for them,” Monroy said.
But a rejuvenated Monroy couldn’t help but get down after the injuries started piling up. Not able to run, Monroy was in danger of becoming academically ineligible.
“I warned him that if you ride that fence, you can fall off of it,” Zepeda said. “He was a C-student in high school and trying to get by in community college. He almost became ineligible, and thank his lucky stars he didn’t. It’s been a rough road and a lot of kids would have given up along the way. But he surrounded himself with the type of people he wants to become, and he found his way.”
To give an indication of just how much Monroy has improved, his best time in the 5K last year was 18:04 compared to a 16:13 this season. Talk about a quantum leap of an improvement.
“Nobody knew who Christian was for a year and a half, but I had seen potential,” Zepeda said.
Monroy grew up despising track workouts, but he’s grown to love them. Monroy was the first or second best runner behind Avila at Anzar, often finishing a minute or two behind. However, Monroy is now running similar times as Avila did at Hartnell in the 1500.
“It’s so surreal,” Monroy said. “I never thought I could run as fast as what I’m doing now, and I can’t wait to run faster.”

Leave your comments