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In the running for a title

Grace Zamudio enters today's state-championship meet as the top contender in the 10,000-meter race

May 17, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk
(Raul Roa/Staff…)

When a state championship was still yet to cross her mind, Grace Zamudio needed a reason to run.

A four-year distance runner at Hart High, Zamudio had put plenty of her time and effort into track, but after burning the candle at both ends balancing school and sports, Zamudio says she was simply burned out.

"In high school I did think about quitting my junior year and my senior year because it was lot of stress having to deal with school along with a sport and I felt like I wasn't improving as much as other girls were at other schools," says Zamudio, who was recruited out of high school by Coach Eddie Lopez to join the women's cross-country and track programs at Glendale Community College, where she is currently a freshman. "[Coming to] Glendale kind of proved that notion wrong and I'm really glad I stuck with running because I found at Glendale my passion was brought back to life."

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Zamudio's rekindled enthusiasm for running has fueled her ascent to the 2012 California Community College Track and Field Championships, which begin tonight a Cerritos College with the running of the 10,000-meter race and continue Saturday.

Seeded No. 1 in the 10K after winning the Southern California title on May 5, Zamudio also qualified for state in the 5K, where she's seeded second, and the 1,500, although she will forgo competing in the latter to focus exclusively on the other two events.

"I was actually quite surprised that I won," Zamudio says of her top effort in the 10K (38 minutes 8.41 seconds) at San Diego Mesa College. "I wasn't really expecting it. I was just hoping to PR, but now that I know there is a chance, I'm not going to lie, I'm kind of nervous. But I'm confident because we've been training so hard the last four or five months. I know whatever happens this weekend, I've put in so much hard work that hopefully it pays off."

Zamudio followed up her win in the 10K with a seventh-place finish in the 1,500 on Saturday at San Diego Mesa, but it was her runner-up finish in the 5K in 18:25.53 that most heavily aided the Vaqueros' best-ever second-place team finish in Southern California and made Zamudio one of the top athletes to watch this weekend at state.

"She's a freshman and she's just accomplishing so much," says sophomore teammate Angela Martinez, who has also qualified for two events on Saturday. "She makes me really proud."

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Zamudio was 10 when she found her sport, but not without a little trial and error.

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