By John Philip Wyllie
There are many reasons why the Otay Ranch Mustangs are currently the county’s top-ranked track & field team. One of the biggest is senior long distance runner Brandon Velasquez.
“Brandon is a guy that is willing to put in the work,” according to his coach, Ian Cumming. “He works really hard and runs about 70 miles per week. He is willing to do anything you ask of him. When you coach him he pays attention. Brandon has great talent, but his personality is kind of demure and laid back. Once you get to know him though, he has a wicked sense of humor,” Cumming added.
Velasquez got involved in soccer long before he ever ran competitively, but once he enrolled in high school he discovered that he had a unique talent for long distance running.
A year ago he was both an All-League and All-CIF selection in cross country placing fifth and eighth respectively. He followed that up by placing 50th against the best prep runners in California at the state competition.
Velasquez is currently ranked third in San Diego County in the 3200 meter event. Despite the fact that he is not yet peaking, his time of 9:39.9 is already just three seconds shy of his personal best. With more than a month left in the season he has plenty of opportunity to shave several seconds off what is already a phenomenal time. He is nearly as good at 1600 meters. His time 4:25.9 currently places him in the 10 slot among the county’s elite.
Velasquez has come a long way in the last four years.
“I actually hated running when I was in middle school, but all of a sudden I started becoming better at it and I began to enjoy and appreciate it more. That feeling of dead legs in my third period class after running really hard that morning felt inspiring and good. My parents are runners themselves so I said O.K. I’ll give running a shot. Cross country really bit and I have liked running ever since.”
His exploits on the track have drawn the attention of several colleges. Minot State in North Dakota has offered him what amounts to nearly a full ride. Closer to home, a less comprehensive offer has been received from UC Riverside. As solid in the classroom as he is on the track, Velasquez has many options.
“Being a student has always been number one. I like to take care of my studies first and my parents have always tried to keep me out of trouble by filling my life with a lot of extra-curricular activities. I try to push myself as an athlete as well as a student. My goal this year is to go to state and race on the blue track. I have run on different all-weather tracks, but that would be different for me.”