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Vaqueros' Grace Zamudio zooming past the field

GCC sophomore's improvement has been as impressive as dominance in victory.

October 14, 2012|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com
  • Glendale Community College's Grace Zamudio has turned in a fine year already for the Vaqueros.
Glendale Community College's Grace Zamudio has… (Roger Wilson/Staff…)

After crossing the finish line and finding out her result at the 2011 California Community College Cross-Country Championships at Woodward Park in Fresno, Grace Zamudio felt dissatisfaction.

Zamudio clocked 19 minutes 34 seconds to finish 37th, hardly the outcome the Glendale Community College women's cross-country runner expected. It served as a wake-up call for Zamudio, who knew she had to make some drastic changes with her training and running regiments.

"It was an eye opener at state last year, a very humbling experience," said Zamudio, who was a part of a Vaqueros team that won their third state championship in five seasons. "When I saw my time, I knew that I was going to have to continue improving and I had to do a lot more.

"Last year, I was so hyped to go to state. The day of the race, I didn't feel like I was on top of my game. I knew I had to take things that much more seriously because I'm running for a great program."

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With one more year left competing for a Glendale college program that's again among the favorites to win the state championship in November, Zamudio, a sophomore, wanted to ramp up her effort in an attempt to get back to state.

The results have left Zamudio, who is also a member of the college's track and field team, satisfied.

Armed with confidence, Zamudio has made the right decisions on many of the 3.1-mile courses around California. She's being counted on by the Vaqueros to lead them to another state championship.

"Things are a lot different now," said Zamudio, who has won six straight races and has not lost against junior college competion this year. "Every point counts. Every decision you make on the course counts.

"Every course is different, and you can't always go by time. You just want to feel like you are going faster each race and you see signs that you are improving."

Zamudio, who participates in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter events in track and field, has won her races by an average of 29.6 seconds and has become one of the top runners in the state.

Zamudio finished in 19:54 to win by 32 seconds at the Santa Barbara Invitational on Friday at Leadbetter Beach. In the process, Zamudio set a new course record, eclipsing the mark of 20:07 by Cuesta College's Devon Kelsey in 2011.

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