September 26, 2008
By John Philip Wyllie
Two years ago, Eric Avila became the first Bonita Vista High athlete in 16 years to win a CIF cross country championship. He went on to place third in the California state competition and to gain a spot in the western regionals. He finished well enough there to go all the way to the nationals. Avila ended up with a scholarship to Northern Arizona University and has continued to excel in college.
While Bonita Vista coach, Lou Russo is not yet ready to proclaim junior, Alfredo Rodriguez the second coming of Eric Avila, he has to be impressed with his returning First Team All-CIF runner and his seemingly unlimited potential.
“Alfredo has really matured this year. In numerous races he has been the key to other people doing their best in addition to him doing his best. I have made him one of our leaders this year and he has come a long way in helping our team. He is probably going to follow in the footsteps of Eric Avila and some of the other state runners we have had here. Time will tell,” Russo said.
Rodriguez put the county on notice by winning July’s Chollas Lake Open Competition.
“That was a race that was open to all ages,” Rodriguez said. “It included a lot of college runners and some former high school All-Americans that are in their twenties now. I ran the 3.1 mile course in 16:43 which was 15 seconds ahead of the second place finisher, (former CIF champion Hector Hernandez).
On August 30, competing against over 100 top local runners including one that reached the Olympic preliminaries, Rodriguez ran a 22.23 which was good enough for 11th place in the 44th Annual Balboa Park 4-Mile.
Most recently, he finished second on September 6 just one second behind Vaquero Invitational winner Kenneth Raedel completing its 2.15 mile course in 10:39.
It appears that Rodriguez is picking up where he left off last year. A year ago, his high water mark was the brisk 16:17 that he turned in at the 2.95 mile Mt. SAC Invitational. On this demanding, hilly course against top notch competition, his time was good enough to claim fifth place. This year he hopes to do even better.
While cross country competition is important to him Rodriguez is far from one dimensional. He is a solid (3.5 G.P.A.) student and performs regularly with the school’s Mariachi Band.
“I am involved in (Del Bangle’s) Mariachi class. We practice every day and we perform during lunch going from one part of the school to the other.” They are also involved in various competitions throughout the year. “I am a singer and I also play the vihuela and the bass. My family has always enjoyed Mariachi music and I like it too.”
If Rodriguez continues improving at the same torrid pace that he is currently on, he will have lots of other people joining him in song when his prep career finally ends. They will be singing his praises.”