Three track stars at Canyon Del Oro High School performed well at the national level, yet they considered the experience at the Arcadia Invitational, in Los Angeles, a humbling one.
CDO traveled to California on April 9, competing in what Coach Rick Glider called one of the nation’s premier in-season track and field invitationals.
Seniors Lezo Urreiztieta and Daniel Wong led the boys’ team. Urreiztieta competes in the 110-meter hurdles, and is currently ranked second in the state and first in Division II.
In Los Angeles, he turned in a time of 14.72 seconds.
In the 300 hurdles, Urreiztieta ranks eighth in the state and second in the division. At the invitational he turned in a 39.98-second performance.
Still, the competition was tough.
“Here in Tucson you don’t experience running against fast times like that,” Urreiztieta said. “It’s really eye-opening to go to California and see the speed that’s out there. We went against the fastest kids in the nation.”
Wong, a distance runner, admitted the national competition helped him overcome some confidence issues.
Ranked third in the state in the 3,200-meter run, Wong turned in a personal best of 9 minutes, 4.62 seconds.
The performance now ranks Wong 18th in the nation, second in the state and first in his respective division.
“This was a good competition for the whole team,” Wong said. “We all went into the meet knowing we were going to do well and work hard to beat our personal bests. It helped me with my confidence.”
However, reaching a personal best was not easy. Wong said he ran a slow first mile, but picked up the pace to run the second mile 12 seconds faster.
In the 1,600-meter race, Wong finished in 4:16.90. He is ranked third in the state in the event.
Jaide Stepter had a strong performance in the speed races. The junior star is currently ranked first in all state divisions in the 300 hurdles.
In Los Angeles, she finished the race in 44.28 seconds.
Stepter also competed in the 100 hurdles, turning in a time of 14.91 seconds. She
is ranked sixth in the state, and first in
Stepter called the national competition a refresher, noting she’s competed against a lot of the runners in travel programs and other national events.
“It is still a humbling experience to go up against so many good runners,” she said. “Running here at home you run against yourself a lot, and you find you have to push yourself. After going out there I have a whole new motivation because there were people who ran faster than me. The goal is to always be the best.”
Glider said the fact that some of his best runners find competition humbling is why they have become such leaders.
“They are true leaders on and off the field,” he said. “All three are very talented, gifted, motivated, hard-working athletes who do what is necessary to reach their goals. These same qualities have made them very successful in the classroom as well as their high grade-point-averages will attest. They are three of the finest student-athletes I’ve known in my 19 years here at CDO.”
Now, the three stars have set their sights on state. Urreiztieta and Wong are aiming to improve their personal bests and take home a state title in their set events, while Stepter focuses on not only the hurdles, but also in the 100, 200 and any other fast race she can get in to.
The three runners agreed that the ultimate goal is for the entire team to perform well at state next month.
Reporter Thelma Grimes can be reached at 797-4384 or by email at email@example.com.