By John Philip Wyllie
Senior Javier Diaz has accomplished a lot in his four years of running track for the Sweetwater High Red Devils. As Diaz, the team captain, heads into his last month and a half of high school competition, he is focused on leaving a lasting mark.
“I’m currently in fifth place (at Sweetwater High) in the all-time 800 meter rankings. The school record is 157.1. My best time so far is 158.43. I want to break that record before I graduate. That is my biggest goal.” Diaz said. He realizes that he is running out of time, but he also knows that he has been closing the gap. His aforementioned personal best was set only last week. Assistant coach Raul Galindo would love to see Diaz finish his career with a school record.
“Javier is very tough, has a lot of heart and is very dedicated to the sport. He was all-league in cross country this past fall and he is likely to be an all-league selection in track as well. He is the returning league 800 champion, but he also runs the mile, the two-mile and anchors our mile relay team.” Galindo believes that his dedication in training both before and after school is what gives him an edge. Diaz also has a lot of experience.
“I started running in elementary school after my mom told me that she was once good in track. I used to participate in the (annual) Kiwanis Track Meet and I won several medals there. I stopped to play baseball in middle school and that was fun, but I returned to track my freshman year and I have been doing that ever since.”
Initially, Diaz struggled against the older and stronger runners. It took a while for him to find his niche, but once his coaches discovered his potential as a middle distance runner, Diaz just took off.
“Since then, I’ve been setting personal records and getting better and better with every race,” he said. Having discovered his ideal distance, Diaz is now racing against time to break the school record. He is having a lot of fun in the process.
“I love the competition. Running the 800 is my favorite. I only ran cross country to stay in shape for track. It’s fun to race and exciting to try to break records.”
Naturally, with all that he has accomplished, many of his teammates look up to him. Humble and reserved by nature, Diaz has only recently warmed up to the idea of becoming a leader.
“I’ve never really been a leader before, but being involved in ROTC has taught me a lot about leadership. I know some of my teammates look up to me now. And that’s cool.” His opponents, on the other hand, are often left to eat his dust.