Jorge Guzman’s first-ever cross country race wasn’t a pretty one. He committed the ultimate rookie mistake. “I ended up not drinking a lot of water that day,” he said. That’s equivalent to not applying sunscreen before hitting the beach or leaving your wallet behind at home before going to the supermarket.
On this day, Guzman’s mistake resulted in stomach cramps because he didn’t keep himself hydrated enough with fluids. He said he ended up with a “normal” time.
“After that,” he said, “I learned what to expect and it slowly started going up.”
There’s really nothing normal about the Turlock High senior runner these days. He usually is the Bulldogs’ top placer, and he proved it on a cool Wednesday afternoon at Donnelly Park, where he clocked in his team’s fastest time of 17 minutes, 9 seconds in the boys’ 3-mile race to finish 13th overall in the second of the Central California Conference’s center meet — which, for the first time this season, collects all the league teams together to determine seeding in what is known as the CCC Championships on Oct. 27 at Applegate Park in Merced.
In that race, the Bulldogs will have a fourth-place standing out of six teams.
Undoubtedly, Guzman will be coined as the leader to help the Turlock boys contend for a league title. It’s a huge role for someone who’s only been running since last year. He was first introduced to his sport in his sophomore P.E. class by JoAnn Davison, the school’s cross country coach.
Guzman decided to train that summer, running alongside the canals in Turlock and wearing down his running shoes. He became a big part of the Bulldogs last season, usually finishing in the team’s first few spots. And now, he is the team’s top runner.
“Most people would be like, ‘You’re so fast or whatever. How do you do it?’” Guzman said. “But I’m like everybody else. I work hard like everybody else.”
His teammates notice it, and so does Davison, who summed up Guzman’s work ethic with this: “Jorge has two speeds: All the way on or probably sleeping. There’s no in-between. I don’t think he knows any other way.”
He has running partners in practice that are working to catch up with him, though he usually separates himself when it’s race time. On Wednesday, he finished nearly 30 seconds ahead of teammate Jordan Fong, who came in 18th overall.
His work ethic is infectious. Over the summer, while he was logging about 15 miles a week, he talked his younger brother Oscar — who’s now a member of the Turlock boys team — and cousins at Downey High to try out for their respective cross country teams.
“I just told them, ‘It’s really fun once you get the hang of it,’” Guzman said. “And that you stay in shape. I just told them what I do and how I do in the races.”
Presumably, he also warned them about staying hydrated before entering a race.
“They decided to do it and try out,” he continued. “And they like it.”
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