Proper preparation prevents poor performance. This alliteration proves to be true in the case of redshirt junior Carlos Villarreal.
The University of Arizona’s cross country team hosted and won the 2018 Dave Murray Invitational at Randolph Municipal Golf Course in September. Villarreal got his first collegiate cross country win and recorded a personal record of 19:06.9 in the six-kilometer race.
Unlike any other sport, runners have to train year round. Cross country is an endurance-based sport, so athletes are expected to stay in great shape and work on their cardio.
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“Over the summer I logged in over 500 miles. I ran quite a bit of miles,” Villarreal said.
Villarreal was prepared for the running part of the race but wasn’t as prepared for the heat. When the gun went off for the men’s race it was approximately 103 degrees outside. He mentioned that the heat played a big factor in the way the race was ran.
“The heat altered our race strategy. It went from being a time trial to just winning the race. Times didn’t really matter,” the Rio Rico native said.
During the race Villarreal went to the front but wasn’t looking to push the pace. He found himself towards the front and felt the other runners going off of his lead.
“It wasn’t too fast, so I was fine with that,” Villarreal said.
Eventually some of the racers started dropping, and one of his teammates, junior Seamus White, then ran next to him for a while.
Villarreal said that around 3k mark, the race started opening up a little. With 1k left to go, Villarreal continued to run as controlled as he could until he crossed the finish line.
“I ran a lot faster than I did last year, which is surprising given it was so hot outside. Overall the team ran well,” he said.
The men’s team earned a team title, scoring 20 points with Villarreal leading the way. Junior Hunter Davila finished second with a time of 19:19.8.
Senior Travis Thorne finished fourth, while White followed in fifth place. Freshmen Connor McCabe and Shem Kemboi came in 8th and 12th.
The Wildcats have been successful when participating in the Dave Murray Invitationals. In 2017, the men’s team also earned the team title with 21 points. That year Davila got first place clocking in at 19:24.7 and Villarreal got second place with 19:29.6.
Villarreal said that the sport that he played in high school was basketball. He recalls that he was always the “quickest guy on the court”. His dad was his coach, and Villarreal asked him if he should try out for the track and field team at school to work on his cardio.
Villarreal's dad said yes but told him that if he joined the team, he wasn’t going to quit the basketball team, so he joined.
The track coaches quickly realized that he had a talent for distance running. He then went out for the cross country team as well, and in his first season he placed second at state.
“It was pretty evident that I was a lot better at running than I was at basketball,” the junior said.
Now Villarreal is competing well at the Division I college level. He couldn’t have asked for more in his first race of the season, thanks to the preparation and training he put into it.
“It was overall just a good day,” Villarreal said.
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