Cross-country Owls run towards success at state championships

Two cross-country team members ran in the California Community College Athletic Association State Championship held Nov. 23 in Fresno.

Julia Galvez, 19, is the first Citrus College female who has qualified to run in the CCCAA state championships since 2009.

“It means the world to me,” Galvez said. “I did it.”

Galvez ran the 5K and placed 175th out of 207 racers, with a time of 21:42:25.

Upon crossing the finish line she cried.

“Crossing the finish line was bittersweet because running has been the best experience so far in my college career,” Galvez said.

Head coach Alicia Longyear has noticed a significant change in Galvez’s confidence and focus since last year.

“Julia was chosen as captain due to her positive attitude, assertive leadership skills and ability to model committed training behavior,” Longyear said.

Diego Lopez, 18, finished the four mile men’s course placing 111th out of 203 racers with a time of 22:10:05.

He credits his athleticism to his father, who taught him, “If you give up [in life], your race is over.”

“In high school, I was always number two,” Lopez said. “I take making it to state championships as a reward for all the hard work I have put in.”

Longyear knew Lopez was extremely talented after his first cross-country practice.

“As the season progressed I [also] found that he is deeply hardworking and exceptionally motivated – the perfect tools for an elite distance runner,” said Longyear. “I hit the jackpot!”

But running is not just about physical endurance, it is mentally exhausting as well.

“For me, the hardest challenge in running is not giving up,” Galvez said. “When the workouts get harder and you start getting tired, giving up is the easiest thing to do.”

Running gives Galvez a sense of freedom and confidence.

“It gives me comfort knowing that I can rely on something that makes me so happy.”

Lopez has been running for seven years, five years competitively, and has no intention of stopping. “Running has always been my way to escape reality and just relax,” Lopez said.

Galvez, who has been running for 10 years, is not going to quit either. “Even though it was my last race at Citrus College I will never stop being a competitive runner.”

Lopez and Galvez have made this cross-country season a notable one for coach Longyear.

“They have paved the way for future Citrus cross-country runners and have made my first season as head coach an extremely rewarding and memorable one,” Longyear said.

Galvez plans to attend San Diego State University where she will major in English. She also plans to train for marathons, triathlons and Iron Man competitions.

Lopez is a political science major and plans to attend a local private college such as Pomona.