Cross Country couple taking victory

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Melieena Sosa

Two members of the DHS cross county team, Andres Velasco, 12, and Lisa Vasquez, 10, break the three mile record on September 7. “I wanted to make it my initial goal for this upcoming season,” Velasco said. “I wanted to leave Downey with a legacy.”

Brenda Lopez, Writer

It was during the summer practice of 2011 when Lisa Vasquez,10, and Andres Velasco ,12, came across each other; little did they know love wasn’t the only thing they would share. Velasco broke Downey’s record by five seconds at the Woodbridge Invitational meet with a time of 14:50. Vasquez’s record breaking time was 17:59, coming in first place at the Hollydale Park meet.

Vasquez has always shown an interest in running; she was involved in the Running Club in Neimes Elementary School and joined track in seventh grade. Even though the program was cut her eighth grade year, it didn’t stop Vasquez from joining Downey’s cross country team. It was here where she stepped into the spotlight and showed her coach, her team and herself that running is indeed her greatest passion, and breaking the school’s record by 27 seconds is now her greatest accomplishment. Coach Casarez has seen Vasquez grow as an athlete throughout her freshman and sophomore year and he couldn’t be more pleased by her performance.

“I’ve been coaching for thirty-nine years; she’s the most focused young girl I’ve ever had in my coaching career,” Casarez said, “in terms of dedication and discipline.”

As well as Vasquez, Velasco found a greater gift he held within, as he was able to beat the school’s record that had not been broken since 1986. The most memorable and meaningful experience was the knowledge he gained from being on the team, as Velasco saw how much hard work can pay off. Coach Gleason describes Vasquez as a hard working, dedicated young man who works towards his goals. Pushing himself to be better was not his normal routine, but being in cross country has really showed him what he can truly accomplish.

“I just wanted to be good at something,” Velasco said. “I’ve learned so much from being on the team.”

Gleason refers to Vasquez and Velasco as a little power run couple.

“I don’t know how often it happens that a couple brakes the school’s record within a week of each other,” Gleason said. “I think that’s what makes them so unique.

Vasquez and Velasco not only share love for each other but also their accomplishments, successes, hobbies, and, of course, their passion for running. The couple’s favorite pastime with each other is running for about 30-40 minutes on weekends. Before a race they both put on their headphones and listen to their favorite bands as a way to help them focus and prepare.

“It’s just my music and me, I guess” Vasquez said. “When I’m racing all I think of is just to try to maintain my pace.”

Velasco plans to attend Colorado University and continue with athletics because of the altitude in Colorado. Vasquez will continue being part of Downey’s cross country team throughout her whole high school career. After high school she would like to attend Oregon University and join its cross country team as well. Many accomplishments come to follow this victory couple; it’s determination and perseverance that has proven to make them stand out in Downey’s history.