By John Philip Wyllie
A year ago, Eastlake High School’s Tania Andrade came within an eyelash of qualifying for the CIF San Diego Section Track & Field Finals. She also nearly broke the school record of 12:10 in the two-mile run. Not bad considering that Andrade was a wide-eyed freshman and had rarely ever run that event in competition. Andrade’s coach, Joe Stubbs, expects his now seasoned sophomore to emerge this year as one of the area’s top long distance runners.
Following in the footsteps of her older brother who is now a senior on the boys track team, Andrade has come to truly embrace the sport. He has served as her mentor and her parents have encouraged them both. She loves training as much as the actual competition.
“Running makes me feel relaxed. It gives you time to clear your head and to think. I find it to be a stress reliever. I also love the people on this team,” Andrade said. The actual competition of course, is much different.
“I get really competitive. You are not allowed to look back. You really have to concentrate.” That is not a problem for Andrade. With her success she has won the admiration of her teammates and coach.
“Last year, Tania was 84 pounds and all heart,” according to Stubbs. “She nearly won the two-mile league championship in what was only the third time she had ever run it. Tania was all-league in cross-country last fall. Here, we use her almost exclusively in the two mile, but in a pinch we could use her just about anywhere because she is both quick and has great endurance. She is also a wonderful young lady and one that is hard working and without a single mean bone in her body except of course, when she gets out on the track.”
Andrade prefers to call it “getting into the zone.” When she does, there is almost no stopping her. She attributes a lot of her success to simply finding the event best suited to her talent.
“I started off running the 800 (meters) and I usually finished second or third. Then coach tried me in the mile and I did better, but when he (entered) me in the two-mile, I won every race up until the CIF qualifier.” Still miffed at just missing out on CIF competition last year, Andrade is confident that at season’s end this year she will be among the participants.
“I was also only two spots away from qualifying for (state competition) in cross country, so I know that if I just push a little harder I will get it.”
Very goal-oriented, Andrade is already thinking about her life beyond Eastlake’s doors.
“My parents think I have a good shot at getting into college on an athletic scholarship and I am already getting a lot of letters from colleges. I’m not really sure what I will do, but I like helping people and I think I would like to someday become a special education teacher.” Andrade knows that major goals like that however, are achieved one step at a time. So for now, she can be found most afternoons running well ahead of the pack as her rivals and teammates try desperately to keep up with her.