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Guerrero finds instant success in first full season of cross country
Eduardo Guerrero is not the first runner to join a cross country team to improve their endurance for the upcoming soccer season.
He's not the first runner to see those initial intentions fade away either, once the miles become less of a nightmare and more of a passion.
"At the beginning I didn't like to run," Guerrero said. "Now I like running and I'm thinking about running at the university level."
Speed and success certainly make it easier to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and Guerrero accomplished both those feats when they mattered most for the Cibola Raiders this year to become the Yuma Sun/Yuma Rotary Club 2009 All-Region Boys Cross Country Player of the Year.
"He has a nice and easy-going personality, but there's a quiet confidence in this young man," Cibola coach Kris Norton said. "It was an exceptional season to accomplish what he did in his first season of full competition, and that speaks a lot to how talented he is as a runner."
Guerrero won the Gila Valley Region title in Lake Havasu and then shaved close to 13 seconds off that time at the 5A-II State Championships with a time of 16 minutes, 44.92 seconds. The mark was good enough for sixth place and the top time among his fellow Raiders, who finished second overall in the team competition.
"I was behind from the start," Guerrero said of the state race. "After the second mile I picked it up and that last 800 meters I just had to do my best."
After competing in just two races, a hip injury closed the book on Guerrero's season his junior year. But after putting in more than 10 miles of training per day during the summer, he was ready to make his senior year a memorable one.
"When he came in we knew he was a talented runner, and we already had kids that were going to medal (at state)," Norton said. "So when he took off that first race at the Padre Invite in Tempe with the lead pack, we were taken aback by the intensity and talent he brought."
Guerrero's new-found enthusiasm for running hasn't replaced his desire to play soccer for the Raiders, but it's raised his level of excitement to trade his soccer cleats for track spikes come spring.
"I'm trying to continue running in the morning and after school to get ready for track season," he said. "At the end of soccer practice, my legs are dead."
Rob Weiler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6883.