For the first time this season, Pacheco cross country runner Ryan Salcido didn't make his goal -- to place at the CIF State Cross Country Meet Saturday at Woodward Park in Fresno.
Salcido's time of 16 minutes, 20 seconds on the 3.1-mile course earned him 38th place out of 193 runners in the Division 3 race.
But that's OK, because he only set the goal two weeks ago after learning he'd accomplished his ultimate goal of qualifying for the meet -- the first-ever state qualifier in any sport from Pacheco and the first cross country runner from the city to qualify for state since Los Banos High's Steven Giron placed 17th (16:02) in Division 2 in 2004.
"It felt really amazing being there," Salcido said. "Being part of it, knowing you're at the top."
Campolindo's Aidan Goltra won the race at 15:18, a pace that surprised Salcido.
"It was a fast, fast pace from the beginning. I was at 4:52 in the first mile," Salcido said. "I normally go out at 5 minutes, 5:10 or so. I just tried to keep it."
The course at Woodward Park appears fairly flat, but it is deceiving to the eye, with a plethora of small rises that can catch the unsuspecting runner off guard. Salcido started strong, grouping in with the top 12 after the wide start was funneled down on the course.
"I just kept the pace in the first mile, and that's when everybody started getting bunched up," the senior said. "I tried to keep onto it. It was really fast though. There was nothing I could do."
With a little bit of a sprint left in the tank and his quads burning, Salcido gave the handful of teammates and his parents, who all made the trip for him, a show by passing five or six runners down the stretch. Despite coming one second away from his section time (and personal record) of 16:19, Salcido moved up among his section peers -- from eighth to fourth.
"I pretty much stayed the same time, but it was a little tougher race," Salcido said.
Now the Pacheco senior moves on to preparing for the track season, where he runs long distance. He has already set his goals for spring -- "State," he said, "and try to place at state."
Enterprise reporter David Witte can be reached by phone at 388-6565 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org