February 6, 2004

Alvarez Trades in his Running Shoes for a Microscope

By John Philip Wyllie

In the spring and the fall Abraham Alvarez demonstrates his athleticism and determination as half of one of the best long distance running tandems in San Diego County. He and Bonita Vista High teammate, Ryan Becijos formed the foundation last fall of Barons’ Mesa League cross-country championship team. When the prep track season begins later this month, the Barons dynamic duo will no doubt again be leading the pack.

As good as he is as a long distance runner Alvarez is an even better student. Currently ranked number one in a junior class that will in all likelihood send students on to MIT and the Ivy League colleges, this Mexican-born son of a physicist and a biochemist would like to one day become a surgeon. An unrelenting determination is what sets him apart in the eyes of his coach, Hector Hernandez.

“He runs a mile in about 4:30, so that places him among the best runners in the county. This a kid that will also stay up to 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. hammering away at the books after doing an interval workout in the afternoon. He is taking calculus and a lot of tough A.P. courses and has the highest G.P.A. on the team. Abraham has a very positive attitude and an incredible amount of drive,” Hernandez said.

Currently in between seasons, Alvarez has found another way to compete. This time he’ll be using his head rather than his feet. It’s called the Science Olympiad.

“We have gathered up a team of about 50 students and we will go up to SDSU (on February 7) to compete against teams from all across the county,” Alvarez explained.

The students will match wits in everything from Astronomy to Zoology as they strive for team and individual honors.

“I’ll be participating in the qualitative analysis, genetics and rocketry events,” Alvarez said. Some of the events will be conducted much like television’s Jeopardy show while others will require hands-on participation or paper and pencil computations and essays. In each, Alvarez and his teammates will be going head to head against some of the county’s brightest students.

“It is hard to say how we will do as a team, but last year I took sixth in qualitative analysis,” Alvarez said. “In that one you are given an unknown substance and you have to determine what it is. I’ll also be building a water rocket. The rocket that soars the highest wins.” Few students have soared as high as Alvarez.

Science department chairman Al Ohlendorf credits Alvarez and his friend Dana Levine for organizing BV’s Science Olympiad team.

“Abraham is an intelligent, amazing young man who has excelled in the sciences. He has been a driving force for the success of our Science Olympiad team. His passion for learning is unrivaled.”

Whether he is competing on the track or in the classroom, Alvarez takes on challenges in much the same way.

“Life can be compared to a race. There are often hard times when you want to give up, but you know that there are a lot of people counting on you, so you can’t. If you can manage your time (wisely) that can be a great help. You can do anything you believe you can do.”

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