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Panther Spotlight: A Remarkable Journey to Success in the CIF State Championships
Panther Spotlight: Joaquin F

After a long and challenging season, Joaquin F. ’24 peaked at the right time during CIF State Championships, competing against 27 of California's most formidable runners. 

On the day of the State Championships, Joaquin displayed his athleticism during the prelim race, sprinting ahead of California's elite runners and leading the pack at the 200-meter mark and down the backstretch before suddenly slowing down, with four runners passing him. At first glance, the fans and Head Coach Mark Churchill wondered whether Joaquin burned himself out. However, Coach Churchill quickly realized that a light bulb went off in Joaquin's head and that he was following the game plan, conserving energy while comfortably holding onto fifth place to qualify for the final race finishing with a time of 1:53.

Following his strong performance the previous day, Joaquin began showing signs of fatigue in the final race. The runners started strong, completing the first lap in 56 seconds. Joaquin faced an uphill battle as the race progressed, seemingly headed for twelfth place. However, fueled by sheer determination, he mustered up his remaining strength to outsprint the runner ahead to finish in 11th with a time of 1:55. It was a close race from start to finish as California's finest ran a negative split (55 seconds), with the winner finishing the race at 1:52.

Joaquin's achievement as the 11th-best runner in the State for the 800-meter race is an extraordinary feat. His unwavering commitment and outstanding performances have inspired us. Head Coach Mark Churchill is optimistic about Joaquin's future, believing that this experience has equipped him with invaluable knowledge to reach even greater heights next season. “He did everything perfectly. There's nothing he could have done differently to have a better outcome. His ability to adapt and meet the demands placed on him makes me believe that there is more to come from him.” 

Joaquin reminisced with a sense of awe as he spoke about his journey at the State Championships. “Competing in the State Championships was an incredible experience. I'm happy that I got to test myself against the best of the best, learned a lot, and had a fantastic time doing it with my coaches and teammates. I'm looking forward to applying what I learned this season in the next!” Armed with newfound knowledge and a supportive team, he is poised for another great season next year.