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Freshman sets pace for cross country

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Freshman sets pace for cross country

ILLUSTRATION BY BRITTANY ENGLAND/THE PIONEER

ILLUSTRATION BY BRITTANY ENGLAND/THE PIONEER

ILLUSTRATION BY BRITTANY ENGLAND/THE PIONEER

ILLUSTRATION BY BRITTANY ENGLAND/THE PIONEER

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

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Normally when you think of team leaders a senior or junior will come to mind. However, for the Cal State East Bay men’s cross country team, it’s a freshman that is leading by example.

Israel Sotelo, is in his first season as a collegiate runner and off to a great start. The freshman from Porterville was a standout during his four years as a runner at Monache High School where he was crowned champion in the 800 meters, despite not really being interested in the sport.  

However, on the first day of soccer tryouts I found that I no longer enjoyed playing soccer, or at least I enjoyed running significantly more, so I hung up my cleats that same day and went for a run and I haven’t stopped since”

I only started running in order to get in shape to play soccer for the high school team that winter because I had played soccer for five years prior to entering high school,” Sotelo said. “However, on the first day of soccer tryouts I found that I no longer enjoyed playing soccer, or at least I enjoyed running significantly more, so I hung up my cleats that same day and went for a run and I haven’t stopped since.”

Thankfully for CSUEB Sotelo decided to switch sports in high school and his success has carried over to college in just his fifth year as a runner. In his first three collegiate meets Sotelo has finished first every time for the Pioneers.

“Israel has been a tremendous addition to the team,” CSUEB Head Coach Tony Nicolosi said. “He is the kind of kid you want to start a great program with.”

In his first meet at the University of San Francisco Invitational, Sotelo made his presence known as he finished the 8k race in a time of 27:06.10 which placed him 56th overall and third out of 36 NCAA Division II competitors.

In the second meet of the year, the Fresno State Invitational, once again Sotelo finished first for CSUEB and ahead of many other top-level talents that included Division I schools like Stanford and San Jose State. Sotelo didn’t let that intimidate him and cruised to a 19:55 in the 6k race which garnered him 43rd place overall and second place among Division II runners.

“[My high school coaches] respected me and worked me like a college athlete,” Sotelo said. “That primed me to run in college under Coach Tony Nicolosi and Coach Tyler Patterson here at CSU East Bay. They have done a fantastic job with this team and coach to create future champions not just runners who compete. They are moving the entire team in a positive direction not just me.”

Sotelo continued to pace CSUEB in their most recent meet, at the Stanford Invitational, where once again he finished first for the Pioneers with a time of 26:19.10. The freshman managed to nab 163rd place out of 283 competitors in just his second collegiate 8k race. The time was the second best by a Cal State East Bay runner since 2009.

“I entered the race with a goal and a game plan that my coaches and I had agreed upon earlier that week and I feel I executed it to the best of my ability,” Sotelo said. “I still have a lot to learn and a lot to work on but I’m content with how I performed at Stanford, the weather was great, the competition was there and I was just excited to be there in uniform leading a team that has worked so hard right alongside me.”

There is just one meet left on the schedule before the California Collegiate Athletic Association Conference championships begin on Oct. 25. The Pioneers will travel to Golden Gate Park to participate in the San Francisco State Invitational at 9 a.m. tomorrow in their final regular season tune-up.

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Freshman sets pace for cross country