Bulldog Track & Field/Cross Country Blog
May 7, 2010
If Sanchez could, she would take all of those 2,000 throws in one day just to become a better thrower. Sanchez appreciates her sport in a way that differs from most college athletes and for good reason.
The Bulldogs' star thrower fought through trials and tribulations on her road to finding success at the Division I level, and it started with a move to the United States in 2004.
"It never really crossed my mind to move to this country," Sanchez said. "To me it was like a dream come true. I never really expected it, but I am loving it now that I am here."
`Rosie,' as her friends affectionately call her, won the 2004 Central American and the Caribbean games for her native country and said it wasn't because she was the most prepared athlete in the field.
"Fortunately, I came in first place. That was my last big win in Mexico," Sanchez said. "I was happy with the result, but I knew that wasn't enough. It happened because of destiny, or something, I don't know. I wasn't well prepared for that competition. I didn't have a coach or physical preparation. It was just natural."
After winning the Central American and Caribbean games in 2004, Sanchez said that she and her family decided to more aggressively pursue her throwing ability and search for better competition. At the time, Sanchez' brother was living in Selma, Calif., and told her about the opportunity to compete for Selma High.
After weighing the options, Sanchez' parents decided that a move to the United States would be the best thing for their daughter's future.
"My parents and I made a big sacrifice so I could come here and start all over again and become a great athlete," Sanchez said.
Sanchez said that moving to the United States posed a lot of difficulties for her, like the language barrier, but the most difficult thing to overcome was leaving her hometown and leaving her extended family behind. She said she grew up knowing everyone in her town and didn't have an easy transition to her new life.
"It was tough for me," Sanchez said. "It was a totally different environment for me. I had to learn and grow, not only as an athlete, but as a person."
But Sanchez stuck it out and she eventually came to Selma High and was offered a scholarship to throw for the Bulldogs.
But tragedy struck at the end of her season year. Her father passed away in spring of 2007.
Sanchez said that after that passing of her father she had such a tough time leaving Selma to come to Fresno for school that fall.
"I have come through a lot, especially with my family. Leaving them all behind was tough. I had to adapt to that," Sanchez said.
The main way that she adapted to the void in her life and again uprooting for new opportunities was in the seven-foot shot put ring. Sanchez worked hard that offseason in preparation for her freshman season at Fresno State. During that season, Sanchez rose to second all-time on the Fresno State women's shot put record and competed in the NCAA Championships.
Her journey continued to prove to be a winding one, but Sanchez said she took it all in as an opportunity to learn and grow. And that attitude continues to be something she carries with her.
"It was a great year and I experienced a lot of great things, but it never stops," Sanchez said. "The next year I was learning even more things and this year I am learning even more. It's a process. It's life."
Sanchez invested much of herself into throwing in her freshman year and was poised to continue her success into 2009, but she lost her entire year to a serious ankle injury.
Sanchez hurt her ankle in the preseason and then again at the season's midpoint. The injury required surgery by the end of the season. Sanchez was devastated and went through one of the worst times of her life that year not only as an athlete, but as a person.
"There was a point where I felt like the loneliest person in the whole world," Sanchez said. "I can't describe how hard it was for me. But there is always that person who can pick you up and make you believe that everything is possible. Talking with my coaches, teammates, friends and my brother, they helped me realize that it's not over. Like my coach says, `Sometimes injuries are a blessing.'"
Spending that whole season injured forced Sanchez to reconsider her priorities in life. She leaned on friends and family to make it through the injury, but said that she knew she would come back with a new fire and a new hunger when she got back in the ring.
"I want to prove to my family, and anyone else, that anything is possible," Sanchez said. "I want them to see that no matter what happens, there is always a way to succeed."
When she completed her rehabilitation, Sanchez was excited to get back out in the ring. She now feels like 2010 has been a special season for her - one she in which she vales each of those 2,000 throws.
"Throwing again was the best feeling I had for a long time," Sanchez said. "I was hungry for success and to be out in the ring again competing against other athletes."
Rosie said that she has a few goals for the remainder of her career as a Bulldog: She wants to own the school record, to win the Western Athletic Conference championship and be ready to compete for Mexico in the 2012 Olympics.
It seems like so much for one person to accomplish. But Rosie Sanchez has proven that she isn't going to look back and ask, `What if?'
"No regrets, like they say. I want to live with no regrets," Sanchez said.
May 7, 2010
Senior sprinter and hurdler Val-Pierre Dai'Re just ran his final meet at the Warmerdam Field and his career will soon come to an end as one of the most decorated student-athletes in Fresno State history.
He holds two Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championships, has qualified for the NCAA Tournament twice and is currently in the Top 10 in the West Region for 400-meter hurdles. Even though he is so accomplished, Dai'Re can't compare himself to one of Fresno State's all-time bests.
When Dai'Re came to Fresno State five years ago as a freshman high hurdler, he said he idolized former Bulldog sprinter and hurdler Ryan Moore.
"When I came in, he was my idol. That is who I looked up to," Dai-Re said. "He never let anyone out-work him and he never let anyone beat him in a race. When he got the baton, he didn't care who was in front of him. He was going after it."
Moore currently holds the record in the 400 intermediate hurdles, Dai-Re's main event, but Dai'Re is quickly approaching his mark. In fact, the two were just voted to the GoBulldogs.com All-Decade track and field team. There was only one spot for runner - and they tied in voting for the honor.
Even though the two 'Dogs' careers are on such similar trajectories, Dai-Re says he feels he will never be on the same level as Moore.
"In my eyes, I could shatter his record by 18 seconds, but I still don't think I would be as good as Ryan Moore," Dai-Re said. "I just can't see myself at that level."
Last week at the Brutus Hamilton in Berkeley, Calif., Dai-Re moved one step closer to holding the 400-meter hurdles record.
Dai-Re ran a personal record 50.74 at Berkeley on April 24. Moore's school record is 50.51. Dai-Re said he would peak by the time WAC championships rolls around, even though he has struggled at conference in the past.
"When I get to conference, I haven't run my best," Dai-Re said. "And when I do run well, it's in the relay because I am mad at my other events."
As the anchor, Dai-Re has brought home two WAC titles in the 4x400 relay. He is proud of those titles and wants another this season for the Bulldogs, but he is hungry for an individual title. But there is one man standing in the way.
When Dai-Re set his record last week at Berkeley, he finished in second place to Utah State's Nick Karren. Karren ran 50.7, only .04 seconds faster. The two have raced twice with Karren taking both by narrow margins.
"Each time at the very end he out-leaned me," Dai-Re said.
Dai-Re said that he cramped up at the final hurdle of the event, causing him to lose speed at the very end of the race even though he led Karren throughout. When he sees Karren again at the WAC championships, he expects a different outcome.
"At conference," Dai-Re said, "I should definitely have the school record and I should probably beat him."
Dai'Re said it is his focus and mental toughness that will carry him to a victory over Karren, a WAC title and a school record.
"I'm very mentally into my race," Dai-Re said. "Especially at conference - some people may say that I am mean, but I just get serious tunnel vision. I don't care what's going on. I know what I have to accomplish."
Dai'Re and the rest of the Bulldogs travel to Ruston, La., for the WAC Outdoor Championships May 12-15.
Fresno State Athletics Communications
April 26, 2010
When Fresno State's senior cross country and track runner Frank Sanders was in high school, he said that he had no plans of attending college. He was on his way to joining the military and pursuing his dream of being an officer.
But when he was offered an athletic scholarship as a runner for the Bulldogs, Sanders thought twice about enlisting.
"It was the only reason why I came to Fresno, actually, it was the only reason why I went to college," Sanders. "I decided to pursue my dream of being a Division I college runner. If it wasn't for that, I would be in the military right now."
Sanders isn't an active member of the military, but he is a cadet in the Fresno State Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). In his final year in the officer-training program, Sanders will soon realize his ultimate goal and become a commissioned officer on graduation day.
So he is going to live both dreams - Division I college athletics and a career as an officer in the United States Army. His career as a Bulldog has been highlighted by two Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championships in the 1,500-meter race, an All-WAC selection and an NCAA Regional qualification.
But Sanders feels like his best days as a runner are ahead of him and he has a new dream to chase - even though he is going to be an officer come May 21.
"It was actually until this year, senior year, that I thought I was going to be able to run in the professional field after I was done with college. I just figured I wouldn't be able to compete at that level," Sanders said. "I may have the ability to run with the professionals in the next Olympics."
In fact, Sanders said that one of his coaches at Fresno State also trains Olympic middle-distances runners and has begun supplementing Sanders' training with an Olympic regiment. After working hard on his Olympic-style training, Sanders said that he is nearly on pace to qualify for the Olympics as a miler now - and he still has two more years before the 2012 games.
The US military has a program for soldiers who are talented enough to qualify under the US National standard times. It is called the World Class Athlete Program and it is a group of active soldiers who train for the upcoming Olympics at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. If the athletes can qualify for the Olympics, they will compete and represent both the military and the United States. If they do not qualify, they are recycled back into active duty.
Sanders is currently one second away from being accepted into the World Class Athlete Program and running for the Army instead of becoming a chemical officer for the time being. And the thought of being accepted into the program and competing in the Olympics has driven Sanders to new heights.
"It has made me go out and reach for the things that I personally never though that I was able to do," Sanders said.
It's safe to say that Sanders has a lot on his mind right now. He will be an officer in the United States Army in less than a month. He is going to graduate with a degree in exercise science on the same day. He is hoping to compete in the NCAA Championships in June. He is trying to remain in the national rankings as a middle-distance runner. He is training with the hopes of representing his country in the Olympics in 2012. Oh yeah, he and his wife just had their first child last December.
"Most of my time I am running, doing things for ROTC like helping other cadets," Sanders said. "But the real big thing is that just this last December I had a son. I am trying to balance right now being a good father and doing well in school, commissioning and staying nationally ranked."
All of Sanders' dream will be coming to fruition in the next few months with the hopes of the Olympics on the horizon. As he tried to look back on a successful running career as a Bulldog, Sanders couldn't help be look forward to the future and be excited for what life has in store.
"Every year has gotten better and better and better," Sanders said. "The end of this year will probably be my highlight. At the end of the track season when I potentially end up running at nationals, commissioning for the Army and getting my degree, those will be the highlights of my career."
Fresno State Athletics Communications
April 15, 2010
After two weeks of voting the fans have spoken! The 2000-2009 Men's and Women's Track and Field and Cross Country Athletes of the Decade results are in!
A total of 275 fans for track and field and 274 fans for cross country logged on to www.gobulldogs.com and voted for their favorite men's and women's athletes of the decade.
Men's Cross Country
Women's Cross Country
Robert Vaca was a four-year varsity letterman for the Bulldogs from 1999-2002, posting solid times and leading Fresno State for four years. Vaca was a decorated student-athlete, earning First-Team All-WAC honors in 2000 and Second-Team All-WAC honors in 1999. Vaca was so well respected by his peers and coaches that he was named a team captain for his senior season (2002). At the 2001 Stanford Invitational, Vaca posted a time of 26:44, good enough for second-best in the entire race. In just his freshman season (1999), Vaca participated in the District 9 NCAA Regional Championships, finishing second-best on his team.
Olga Gutierrez was a dominant runner while at Fresno State (1998, 2000-02) and was the top runner on the team in her junior and senior seasons (2002-03). In her junior season with the Bulldogs, Gutierrez was the 'Dogs' top runner in every meet with the exception of one, earning her Second-Team All-WAC honors that year (2001). That season she posted a 5K time or 18:32 and a 6K time of 22:07. Not only was she dominant on the course while with the Bulldogs, she also excelled in the classroom. In 2002, her senior season, Gutierrez was named to the Fresno State Scholar-Athlete list.
Val-Pierre Dai'Re started competing with the Bulldogs in 2006 and is currently on the team. As a freshman, Dai'Re was considered one the team's top performers in both sprints and hurdles. As a member of the 4x100 relay, he won the WAC title and went on to qualify for the NCAA Regionals with a time of 40.61. He went on and finished third at the WAC Championship in the 110 hurdles. In the 2008 season, Dai'Re was one of Fresno State's top athletes on the track. He placed second at the WAC in both the 110 and 400 hurdles. Dai'Re was a member of the 4x100 relay that took second at the WAC. He also, qualified for the NCAA West Regional in both the 110- hurdles and the 400-meter hurdles. In 2009, he qualified for the NCAA Regionals in the 400- and 110-meter hurdles and was a member of the WAC Champion 4x400 relay team. His career best of 51.00 in the 400 hurdles put him in third in the all-time Fresno State records. Dai'Re qualified the 110 hurdles with a career-best time of 14.20 at the WAC Championships and took seventh at the NCAA Regional in the 4x400 relay.
Ryan Moore competed with the Bulldogs from 2004-2006. During his time as a Bulldog, Moore was named to the Academic All-WAC team four-straight years and a Fresno State Scholar Athlete three-straight years. In 2005 and 2006 he was the WAC champion in the 400 meter hurdles and qualified for the NCAA championships for three-straight years. In 2007, Moore was selected for ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District 8 team. In the 2004 season, Moore took second at the WAC Outdoor Championship with a season-best of 52.16. Moore continued on to the NCAA Regionals and placed 19th with a time of 53.72. Moore earned the Most Outstanding Freshman award. In the 2005 season he was the WAC champion in the 400-meter hurdles, running a 52.00. In the 2006 season, Moore was honored as WAC Scholar-Athlete for the second consecutive year. Moore was Fresno State's lone qualifier for the NCAA Tournament and qualified for the NCAA Championships when he ran a personal-best time of 50.51 400. This time earned him a third-place finish at the NCAA Regionals and set a new school record. Moore went on the WAC Championships and won the title in the 400-meter hurdles.
Russell Weaver competed with the Bulldogs from 2002-2004. In the 2002 season, Weaver claimed the conference indoor pole-vaulting crown to finish third. In the 2003 season, Weaver advanced to NCAA Regionals, finishing 11th overall with a 5.06m mark in the pole vault. He won the pole vault competition at the WAC Outdoor Championships, checking in with a 17-0 (5.18m), leading all Bulldog pole-vaulters, during the outdoor season. In the indoor season, Weaver finished atop the depth chart with a 16-08 (5.08m). In the 2004 season, Weaver captured his second-straight outdoor conference pole-vaulting crown when he claimed gold at WAC Outdoor Championships. He then advanced to NCAA Regional competition, where he placed fifth after reaching 17-3.
Kara June competed with the Bulldogs from 2001-2003. June's first season in 2001 as a freshman she was the WAC Outdoor Champion in the steeplechase with a personal-best and NCAA provisional time of 10:53.83. She set a WAC all-time record, Championship and Warmerdam Field record in the event and earned first place four times throughout the outdoor season. In 2002, June set a new WAC and Fresno State record in the steeplechase with a PR of 10:26.17, a NCAA Provisional Qualifier with that time. She won the steeplechase at the WAC Outdoor Championships for the second-straight year and was awarded as one of the Outstanding Track Performers. In 2003, June became an academic scholar earning the academic All-WAC, Fresno State Scholar-Athlete, WAC Scholar-Athlete and the Dean's List. She was Fresno State's only competitor at NCAA Championships, earning a wild card entry into the 3000-meter steeplechase where she finished 21st overall with a 10:33.07. She placed first in the 3000-meter steeplechase for the third-consecutive year at WAC Outdoor Championships with a time of 10:50.12 and received the team's Outstanding Female Track Performer award.
Mallory Webb competed with the Bulldogs from 2004-2006. In 2004, Webb became the program's first female All-American since 1999, when she tallied a personal-best throw of 162-10 (49.64m) and placed seventh in the javelin finals at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Webb was the only freshman to reach the finals. She threw distances of 150-0 or better eight different times and has six first-place finishes to her credit. Webb finished 17th at the NCAA Regionals, where she threw 141-4 and won gold in the javelin throw at the 2004 USA Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Webb went on to represent the United States at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Grosseto, Italy. In 2005, Webb earned WAC Scholar-Athlete and Fresno State Scholar-Athlete. She advanced to NCAA Regionals, where she established a season-best mark of 160-9 (49.00m) in the javelin and placed fourth at WAC Outdoor Championships. In 2006, Webb earned her second All-American nod of her career after placing at the NCAA Championship in the javelin and finished seventh among US citizens in the finals with a throw of 158-10 (48.41m). Webb placed second overall at the NCAA Regionals with a throw of 163-3 (51.76m). She is a three-time Regional participant and the only reigning All-American on the Bulldog roster.
Fresno State Athletics Communications
Oct. 17, 2009
This is my second year covering Fresno State cross country and I think I've fallen into a rut. The Bulldogs have a roster stocked full of talent, yet somehow, I always assume Erick Garcia will be atop of the men's finishers. Today when I looked at the results from the Bronco Invitational and saw a Fresno State finisher in second, without looking at a name, I mentally applied that finish to Garcia. It wasn't until I looked at the results further and saw Garcia listed as the team's third finisher that I realized someone else led the team this time, in this case junior Paul Zwama. That isn't to say Garcia is or isn't the most talented member of the team - that's hardly something I'm qualified to say. Garcia has led the 'Dogs in nearly every race in my time at Fresno State and qualifying as an individual for the NCAA Championships last season, so consciously or unconsciously, my mind has attributed the top spot to him.
I guess what I'm getting at is that with as much talent as Fresno State has on their roster, it's easy to assume one student-athlete is better than others, but that isn't necessarily the case. Most, if not all, of the Bulldogs in the team's top five could easily take over as the team's top finisher. I'm thankful that Zwama was the team's leader today, not because I want to see Garcia fail, but because it's a good reminder of our team's depth.
Congrats to Zwama and the entire team with their phenomenal finish in today's meet. I can't wait to see them compete at the WAC Championships on Oct. 31 in Reno, Nev.!
Eric Battles, So.
Oct. 9, 2009
The Bulldog Cross Country season is underway and we have been working hard to prepare for the WAC and Regional races in November. This past weekend, a group of eight men and seven women made a long series of flights and van rides to arrive in South Bend, Ind., for the prestigious Notre Dame Invitational. Despite delayed flights, missed connections and defective tires, we were determined to give our best effort. The men were entered in the Blue Division race consisting of many nationally ranked teams. Because we only have one senior on the squad, most of us had never been in such a high caliber race. We learned how to get off the line quickly and the importance of grouping up as a team to work together when we become fatigued. We had high goals for the race and were disappointed with the way things turned out. However, the experience we gained in Indiana will stick with us for races to come and we will work harder each day, using the race as motivation in the future. We are training well and are looking forward to the Santa Clara Invitational next weekend (10/17) where we will see most of the WAC teams. So until then, No Regrets ... Just Do It -- Go Dogs!