Second (redshirted in 2015)
The Cuyamaca men's cross country team gave a glimpse of big things to come, placing second out of 32 teams at last Friday's So Cal Preview at Irvine Regional Park.
Leading the way was Steven Lepe, who placed sixth out of 317 runners. Kibrom Elias (13th), Bryan Alvarado (14th), Isaiah Thomas (28th), and Kiernan Elam (42nd) also placed for the Coyotes, rounding out a strong overall effort.
"It was a pretty tough course," said Lepe. "The toughest part was the last hill. It's a steep hill, and it looks like it's going to even out at the end -- but it still keeps going up."
Lepe covered the 4-mile course in just 21:00, good for an average mile time of 5:15.
"There's a feeling of relief, a feeling of joy, that you finished," said Lepe. "But there's exhaustion at the same time -- you don't have anything left to give. Walking is the hardest thing to do for some reason. You're gasping for air, just trying to keep moving."
After redshirting in 2015, Lepe has logged a lot of miles over the last couple years without crossing a lot of finish lines.
"It's definitely fun, knowing that you can go out there and compete again," he said. "When you redshirt, you know you're not going to get to compete. But you're training to get better, so that when you're competing, it will be easier."
In the lead-up to this year, he estimates that he pounded roughly 70-80 miles of pavement per week.
"That's where you build your base, so you can be strong for the season," he explained. "Right now we're doing more speed work."
Looking toward the future, Lepe is planning to major in kinesiology.
"I like the coaching aspect," he says. "You can help other students excel at what they want to do."
And looking toward the rest of this season, Lepe already has an eye on the next times the Coyotes get to line up against the region's best.
"The preview meet shows where we are right now," says Lepe. "We can improve a lot more."