Three years ago, Yuma Catholic senior Adriana Solorzano wasn’t healthy enough to run three miles.
Now, heading into the Cibola Invitational cross country meet on Saturday morning at West Wetlands Park, Solorzano is the best runner on the Shamrock team.
In 2010, coming out for the Yuma Catholic cross country squad her freshman season, Solorzano got a physical – like every athlete. Her mother – Laura, who is also a nurse – decided to get some blood work done, just in case.
It was a decision, one of those decisions that happen merely by chance, that dramatically changed Solorzano’s life.
Midway through her freshman season, the blood tests revealed the Solorzano has hyperthyroidism, a condition in which a person’s thyroid produces too much thyroxine, meaning metabolism and heart rate is dramatically sped up.
“Her thyroid problem was borderline to the point where it was going to damage her heart or stop her heart,” Solorzano’s father, Jose, said.
Just like that, her freshman cross country season was over.
“That was my first concern. That was the first thing I asked, am I not going to be able to run anymore?” Solorzano said. “It was kind of scary.”
Not only was Solorzano’s health in question, but so was the heartbeat of the Shamrocks’ girls cross country team. With Solorzano sidelined, the only other runner on the team was fellow freshman Patricia Scholle.
“I had my concerns,” Yuma Catholic coach Ralph Farr said about the state of the Shamrocks’ girls team in 2010, the only year in his career he didn’t take a single runner to the state meet. “I definitely had my concerns. What often happens is we do track and we get kids who didn’t do cross country who do track, and that’s where (we get runners).”
Solorzano said it was tough, that freshman season, because she wanted to be out there running with Scholle. Instead, she was taking medicine to keep her condition under control.
In fact, it’s a life-long condition that Solorzano still takes medicine for and requires her to visit the doctor every six months.
But her performance on the course could fool anybody.
On Wednesday, during a meet with Gila Ridge, Yuma High and San Pasqual, Solorzano easily won first place. Last season as a junior, she was the final runner from the section to make the state tournament – and she responded by running, in Farr’s eyes, the best race of her life in Phoenix.
“I think she came in better-prepared, more confident,” Farr said of Solorzano, who finished in 45th place at Division IV with a time of 22 minutes, 46 seconds. “So much of sports, especially this one, is mental. I don’t think she was as pleased with her sectional race – it wasn’t her best race.”
With a clear bill of health, Solorzano has her sights set on something higher this year.
“I want to get top 20 in the state.”