By Jeremy McDonald
ALBANY, Ore.– Coming around the second 200 meters, Cecilia Munoz wasn’t going to have her senior season come to an end in Albany at West Albany High School.
No, she was doing whatever she could to keep her running career alive for as long as she can.
“I just told myself, ‘just run your hardest, whatever happens happens. But I don’t want to be the reason why we didn’t go,” said Munoz. “And I just ran my heart out.”
Munoz helped get McKay into the middle of the pack, just in time for a freshman to be the hero of the moment for the relay team in Steffani Rodriguez Aquino.
About halfway down the last 100 meters, Rodriguez-Aquino was in the middle of a group of runners when she kicked in into high gear as she squeaked by McMinnville’s anchor by 0.08 of a second to send her team to the big show in Eugene here in a few days.
“I was like, ‘oh no, I’m not getting third’,” said the soft-spoken Rodriquez-Aquino on as she finished the race. “It felt like, ‘whoa’, I passed them.”
For Munoz, there was a sense of relief seeing that all of their hard work finally paying off in a State Berth.
“We worked really hard for it,” said Munoz. “All my years I wanted to go to State for our relays. So I kind of figured to see how far we will go. I was just happy it worked at the end.”
On the guys side, you sort of expected that the 4×100 team would make it. But there was some work to it as some hiccups in the race with handoffs caused some frustrations as Israel Garza rallyed for a second-place finish behind West Salem.
“It was the handoffs,” said a flustered Garza. “I mean, we don’t have that great of handoffs. That’s what caused us to be behind. But other than that, we all ran good. We’ll see them again at State.”
That frustration turned into fuel as Garza took the 100 meter and 200 meter races again for District Championship wins.
Rodriquez-Aquino finished third in the 100 and 200 meter races. Sariah Mba finishied fourth in the Shot-put as did Aldofo Lua as they lay the foundation for a up-and-coming throws program at McKay.
“It’s a good feeling,” said Lua, who threw 44-feet-6.5-inches. “Seeing it, enjoying it. Thanking the coaches as well and doing the best that I can do out there for the first time.