College Corner: Aleona Reyes, Women’s Cross Country
Many athletes talk about going into “beast mode” and doing what humans seemingly couldn’t do.
Aleona Reyes’ second consecutive All-American performance in cross country might help define “beast mode.”
Despite a season that featured illness and injury, Reyes placed 25th in the NAIA national collegiate meet in Vancouver, Wash., on Nov. 17. A junior at Jamestown (N.D.) College, Reyes didn’t quite equal her 12th-place performance from 2011, but she still became only the second woman from Jamestown to earn more than one All-American honor.
“This season was a lot tougher than last season,” said the 2010 Belen High graduate. “This summer, I had gotten a lot of good training in, but when I came back up here for school, I had gotten sick, and was out for close to three weeks of no training. So I had to start from scratch, and play catch-up all season long.”
Reyes began competing for Belen High in the eighth grade. She was a three-time All-State cross country runner for Belen High, helping the Lady Eagles win the 2007-08 Class 4A state title, and won an 800-meters state title in track and field.
Her freshman year at Jamestown, she had health issues that required hospitalization during cross country season. However, she bounced back in time to qualify for nationals in both indoor and outdoor track. Last spring, her track season was cut short by an injury to the iliotibial band in her knee.
This cross country season, it wasn’t any one health issue that was a challenge — it was simply a battle to maintain conditioning.
“I managed to avoid any major injuries this season,” said Reyes. “My main problem was having to cope with not being in the shape that I was in last year. My teammates and other schools had weeks of training ahead of me, so that made it difficult for me to deal with. By the end of the season I was just hoping I could have a good enough race to earn All-Amerian again, and thankfully, I had a decent enough race to accomplish that again.”
Jamestown coach Jim Clark said he counted Reyes at about 39th or 40th halfway through the national meet, so she must have had a strong second half to end up 25th.
“This is always a difficult race to strategize, as there are a lot of bodies around you to navigate through,” said Clark. “The temptation is to go out very fast to get out of the congestion, but many go out too fast and set themselves up for failure. It takes a very good runner to avoid all the pitfalls that come with a crowd and run well enough to earn that top 30 All-America award. It is very easy for that to slip away if things don’t go right.”
Jamestown freshman Samantha Goff placed 118th in the 320-runner national meet.
Reyes was granted a medical redshirt for track, so she is technically a sophomore in that sport. Some of biggest success there was as a member of the 4-by-800 meter relay team.
“I haven’t really thought much about track yet,” said Reyes. “But as of right now, I would like to qualify as much as I can, and hopefully earn some All-American honors in some races in the indoor season.”
(Editor’s note: other college runners from this area will be featured in upcoming College Corners. If you know a Valencia County athlete who is competing interscholastically at the college level, send information to email@example.com.)
-- Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.