By John Philip Wyllie
Edgar Medina developed a competitive edge while still in middle school, but finding the sport most suited to his ability has taken time and unrelenting determination. He started with boxing and weight training. It taught him some valuable lessons about discipline and the importance of individual training. Once he entered high school, he decided team sports were the way to go.
First he tried football, but he got cut. Then he tried baseball, but lacking the experience that most of his peers had long ago acquired, he didn’t make that team either. Next he tried volleyball, but it was the same old story. When the final roster was posted, Medina wasn’t on it. Although deeply disappointed, he was not about to give up. The word quit does not exist in Medina’s vocabulary.
In P.E. his coach noticed that Medina was always the first to finish whenever his class ran the mile. Veronica Gonzalez, a friend of his and an outstanding member of Castle Park High School’s cross country team, advised him to try out for that team.
“At first I fell behind, but the guys would always encourage me and help me out. From then on I started moving up and up,” Medina recalled. At the end of last season, his first season of competitive cross country, he captured the South Bay League title. This year he hopes to repeat that feat and qualify for the CIF and state competition once the regular season ends. His coach, Hector Hern-andez, one of the area’s top long distance runners, believes Medina can do it.
“Edgar was a late bloomer. He didn’t start running until his junior year, but I could see that he had talent. He is very self-motivated. I often get calls from him at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings asking me where we are going to run,” Hernandez said. “That is very rare in a high school athlete.” Hernandez doesn’t mind the early morning wake-up calls. He says it gets him going.
“Right now Edgar is running under 17 minutes for 3.1 miles. His personal best is a 16:30 5K performance in a last year’s Arturo Barrios Invitational. This year, I think the league finals will come down to Edgar and a runner from Otay Ranch named Ricky Pimentel. Edgar ranks among the top five in the Metro Conference which includes runners like Eric Avila and Austin Jett from Bonita, Roberto Hernandez from Chula Vista. The North County usually dominates in CIF competition, but with Edgar and a handful of others, I think the South Bay will be able to compete with them in this year’s competition. They are the pride of the South Bay. I hope Edgar can finish in the top 10 in the CIF Finals.”
If he does, Medina will cap his short, but impressive high school career with a berth in the prestigious state meet. Not bad, for a guy who had never run competitively prior to his junior year.