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Marble Falls runner sets personal best at national cross-country meet

Marble Falls High School runner Samuel Valdez

Marble Falls High School runner Samuel Valdez (No. 1355) on Dec. 4 competed at the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships, where he finished 67th in the bronze division and set a new personal best. Courtesy photo

Unsatisfied with his high school cross-country season performance, Samuel Valdez of Marble Falls High School laced up his running shoes and hit the road to Huntsville, Alabama, to compete in the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships on Dec. 4.

He finished 67th in the bronze division in the 5K, or 3.1-mile race, in 16 minutes 7.40 seconds, breaking his previous personal record of 16:19. The race had 350 competitors.

“I had an awesome race,” Valdez said. “It was solid. I contribute it to (Marble Falls head cross-country coach Chris) Schrader. I was running smooth and smart and moving controlled.” 

The event drew top runners and teams from across the country, Schrader said. His advice to Valdez, who has competed twice at the Class 5A state meet and three times at the Class 5A Region IV meet, was to pace himself throughout the course. Valdez has a habit of starting quickly in the first mile and fighting through fatigue the rest of the way. 

The Mustang finished the first mile in 5 minutes and crossed the 2-mile mark in 12:25.

“I always go way too fast in the beginning,” Valdez said. “I learned I could run quicker and pace myself and not to push myself to where I’m already dead before 1.5 miles.”

His coach was glad to see Valdez keep running beyond the high school cross-country season.

“I was real pleased,” Schrader said of Valdez’s performance in Alabama. “Sam took a risk. He spent the money (on travel expenses) and went out there. To come in 67th is a big deal. He closed the season out great.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com