El Camino distance runner is back on the track after a two-year Mormon mission


Israel Cardona, 21, business major crosses his legs and focuses before running on the track for the South Coast Conference preliminaries on Tuesday, April 25 at Murdock Stadium. Photo credit: John Lopez

As he prepares by stretching for his event, he draws undying determination and commitment to the sport of track and field.

El Camino long distance runner Israel Cardona, 21, business major started as a freshmen and showed great promise. Although his religious calling led him on a two-year mission to Santiago, Chile with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Cardona said. “As a member of my church we go for two years on a mission to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ out in Chile.”

Cardona grew up with religion and it’s important because it gives me peace and it gives him direction in his life. Cardona said he takes it seriously and lives every day knowing he’s perfect and so the heart and core of everything he does.

Cardona finished the 1500 meter run in 4:05.21 to come in first at the South Coast Conference Finals on Friday, April 28.

“I’m hoping to improve on those marks but right now, those are my highlights,” Cardona said.

Cardona said he started running at North Torrance High School and continued with the sport when he entered college.

“My brother ran so I kind of followed in his footsteps and just went from there,” Cardona said. “I like the racing mindset and everything that it came with and it was actually fun to compete and actually get good at something.”

His older brother is former El Camino and Cal Poly alumni David Cardona who is now coaching track and field at El Camino.

Track and field coach Dean Lofgren said David was the best distance runner to ever set foot on our campus, shattering two 30-year-old school records (1500 meter and 5,000 meter) while winning four state titles in cross country and track and setting five course records 2009 to 2011.

“I’m very proud of my brother,” David said. “I’m very excited for what he has to offer. There is a lot more that is untapped that he can achieve.”

Lofgren said Israel is one of the distance team crew leaders.

“He came in as a freshman and competed in cross country,” Lofgren said. “When he returned (from Chile) he had a very mature outlook on what he wanted to accomplish on the field and in his academics.”

Lofgren said Cardona came in and was very serious about what he was doing. The other younger athletes look up to him and follow his lead and he is very talented,”

Cardona’s drive to succeed is an inspiration to others on the team and those around him.

Cardona said he hopes to be accepted at four-year-university after finishing at EC and is looking to either attend a school in California or Utah. He will decide by the end of the semester.

“For distance, I’m one the top runners for El Camino,” Cardona said. “I want to keep on running and hopefully continue my career.”