Monache High School runners Imelda Suárez and Iván Méndez had an impressive Wednesday (May 9) ahead of the Central Section Masters track and field meet, earning first-place finishes in each of their two events.
The top three finishers in each event at Washington Academic Middle School qualified for the Valley championships May 19 at Buchanan High School.
Suárez commanded her 3,200-meter race with a time of 11:38:72, nearly a 100 meters ahead of second-place finisher Nadia Salcedo of Tulare Western.
She also won the 1,600-meter run, but walked away upset she did not improve on her personal record of 5:13.29.
Méndez finished the 1,600-meter race in 4:27.16, then returned to capture the 3,200-meter race with a time of 9:51.62.
Suárez, a senior who crossed the finish line in the 1,600-meter race in 5:21.19, is headed to Stanislaus State University to study criminal justice. She is trying to decide whether to drop the 1,600-meter event altogether.
“I was really looking forward to today. This past week, I’ve been jittery, but I’m really, really disappointed,” said Suárez about her 1,600-meter run performance.
In the 3,200-meter race, Salcedo clocked at 11:58.51 and Redwood’s (Visalia) Isabella Haberman finished at 12:08.45.
“I just felt a little more relaxed for my 2-mile (3,200-meter), but if I do the 1-mile at Valley (Masters), the outcome should be a lot better,” said Suárez. “I can just focus on my next event and do the best I can.”
Suárez began the sport in middle school.
“It was maybe around the eighth grade, I was doing a lot of 5ks, I did a half-marathon, but freshman year was a lot more serious,” said Suárez.
Cal State East Bay in Hayward and Fresno State were among her finalists before Suárez agreed to a partial scholarship at Stanislaus State, where she will compete in track and field events and cross country.
Méndez only started running as a freshman
“After I saw that I was pretty good, I thought I’m just going to pursue this as my high school career,” said Méndez, a 16-year-old junior. He established his personal record 4:19.49 at the Reedley Invitational about a month ago.
Méndez didn’t better his personal record, but finished first in the 1,600-meter event at 4:27.16. He then finished the 3,200-meter event in first place with a time of 9:51.62.
He’s hoping to keep from becoming ill. For several meets, he’s either caught a flu bug or is nursing an injury.
“I usually start really good, but, then if I get sick or injured, then I can’t finish my season strong. My main goal is to stay healthy, and I’ve been able to do that this year,” said Méndez.
Redwood’s Ramirez establishes meet record and school record
Ismael Ramírez, a 17-year-old Redwood High senior, established a meet record in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:53.59. Ramírez also etched his name in the history books.
“I’m definitely in the best shape in my life right now. I was thinking a PR (personal record) of about 1:55, but I felt really good at the end,” said Ramirez, who just started in running competitions as a freshman.
According to his father, Adrián Ramírez - who was on hand to watch his son cross the finish line amid all the cheers as the announcement came over the public address system of the new meet record - the record was held by Tulare Union runner Gabe Orosco in 1998. Orosco’s time was 1:54.15. The school record dates back to 1974 by Juan García, who ran 1:54.4.
“My times here in the past have been pretty bad.”
His prior personal record of 1:58.42 was last month in Exeter.
Ramirez will compete for College of the Sequoias in Visalia next year.