Student Forum: Sal Bautista, Student Athlete

Sal Bautista, graduated at Gardena High School. He ran this years L.A. Marathon and dreams of going to the Olympics

How long have you been running cross-country?

I’ve been running at EC for two years. I started running there my senior year in high school. I began running because something told me it was in my future.

Is it hard to manage your time with school and work?

First I have to concentrate on my classes. I go to school, run, and work. When I’m in class, I don’t care about cross-country. In the beginning, it was really hard, but now I’m doing three things at the same time. I run in the mornings, then go to school. I have an hour break before I have to go to practice. I use that time to do homework in the library and also to relax.

How do you do it?

I do it because I have faith in God and I know that he’s watching me and he’s going to help me. I came to this country to be somebody. I want to be a famous athlete.

Is this more of a hobby or more of a career?

This is a hobby, but I also want to become a professional runner. This is what I love to do. I’ve won a lot of medals and awards. I think I can be a professional runner.

What do you get out of running?

It’s good for my health. Although I’m not getting a lot from it right now, I like the recognition. This is a hobby that’s going to get me somewhere in life.

What does it take to be able to be a student athlete?

You have to have 12 units to run and pass all your classes. The pain makes me run faster. I love feeling pain when I run because it makes me feel like I’m running better. If I don’t get tired then I don’t feel I’m getting anything out of it.

How do you feel making it to the state finals?

I’m No. 1 at EC. I qualified by myself to run in the state finals. I’m just 1 person out of 10 to get to represent EC. I want to do my best because it’s my final run.

How did it go at the state finals?

I came in 40 out of maybe 400 runners. I did my best, but I didn’t come in the top ten. It was too cold and when I was running everyone was too up ahead of me. I was the last person so I started running faster. During the second mile I was having pains in my chest. I was disappointed in myself and I wanted to cry because I wanted to do really good, but maybe next time. I just have to train harder for next time.

How did you pick this (running) up?

When I came from Mexico four years ago, I started eating a lot and began to get really fat. I was also playing soccer, therefore I had to lose weight because you can’t be a fat soccer player. I had a friend who had a six pack and I wanted to look like him so I started doing sit ups and running one mile every day. My soccer coach told me I was better at running than at playing soccer. So he motivated me into taking up running.

What are your goals and dreams for the future?

My dream is to run in the Olympic games. I want to run the 10K (10,000 meters). I’m going to train really hard. And I am going to do it because I have a big heart. When you have a big heart, you can do anything.