By John Philip Wyllie
Prior to last season, Bonita Vista Cross Country captain Daniel Garcia had never run cross country. The fleet-footed senior spent his freshman and sophomore years toiling on the Barons soccer team. At present, he finds himself in the unexpected position of captaining the county’s top ranked cross country team.
“I’ve been a soccer player most of my life. I was at first reluctant to come out for the cross country team, but my cousin talked me into it. I got into it over the summer before the start of my junior year and it seemed like a lot of fun. I was surprised when I made the varsity team,” Garcia said. He has never looked back.
“Even though soccer is a team sport, there is more emphasis on the individual. A lot of people don’t think of cross country as being a team sport, but it is all about running together. There seems to be more team unity in cross country,” Garcia added.
The Barons’ success this season is largely a function of its balance. The team has one of the county’s elite runners in top gun Eric Avila, but its consistency is what makes it the county’s best. Solid runners like Austin Jett, Mathew Seat, Chris Close and Garcia have been consistently winning their match-ups.
“As a team we are hoping to win the league finals and finish at least in the top three in CIF competition so that we can advance to the state meet. Personally, I hope to make the All-League team by finishing in the top ten,” Garcia said.
Although several of his teammates are faster and more experienced, Garcia has taken to his leadership role within the team.
“I am the oldest kid in my family so I have always had to be a leader. I like being in that position.” He is a leader in the classroom as well. His weighted G.P.A of 4.2 attests to the fact that he spends as much time studying as he does training. Strong in the areas of math and science, Garcia hopes to pursue a career in engineering, possibly at UC Berkley. He would also like to continue running. His coach, Julie Phair has enjoyed watching him develop.
“This is only Daniel’s second year of running, but in that time he has been one of our upper level competitors. He had an injury earlier this season, but cross-trained through it and performed at a very high level in last week’s meet. He also finished in the top three in his bracket at the Southern California Invitational. Daniel has a great work ethic and he is a quiet leader that leads by example. The underclassmen look up to him and see him as somebody that works really hard but never showboats. Daniel is a tenacious runner that runs hard throughout each race. You can see it as he crosses the finish line that he always gives it his all.”