By Vincent Perez
Assistant Sports Editor
CSU Bakersfield has a new 5-kilometer record-holder. Senior Angel Valdez, 21, broke the women’s cross-country 5k record on Saturday, Oct. 30 in Santa Clarita, California. Valdez, now a 3-time record holder in the 4k, 5k and 6k races in CSUB history, finished the Mustang Challenge 5k race in 17:34.8.
Valdez is grateful for her accomplishments and compared running to taking college exams.
“It’s pretty exciting. I wanted the 5k record. I was really nervous that morning because I knew I would give it my best to get it.” Valdez said that she was a good nervous.
“When you take an exam, you know you’ve studied. You know you’re going to do well, you’re just ready to start.”
Valdez said she started the race with the top five women runners. “I knew it was a faster pace than usual but I felt fine.” Valdez added that near the second mile, the women thinned out.
In the third mile, Valdez said she heard another coach yell at her runner, “Run to win! You didn’t race to lose this!” Valdez took those words to heart and made her move to pass the No. 1 runner. Valdez said then she needed to make her gap so that she wouldn’t be defeated in the last 400 meters.
Valdez was happy with her record-breaking finish in Santa Clarita, California, this past Saturday.
“It was a lot to process. I saw the clock … it was nice to know that everything is paying off. My entire family was there.” Valdez’s parents, siblings and brother-in-law all were in attendance.
The CSUB senior cross-country leader still has more goals on the horizon.
“I want to get top five or seven and first team, all-conference [in Western Athletic Conference]. Then, I want to reset the 6k record,” said Valdez.
Valdez has another opportunity to do so in Santa Clara, California, Oct. 14 at the Bronco Invitational before WAC championships.
Valdez wants to break her 5k record, yet again this season. The 4k races are finished for the season, so that record will remain Valdez’s. However, CSUB women’s cross-country records will be broken again next season by other runners, according to Valdez
Those cross country records will be reset by Paradise Pelzer and Alejandra Frausto, said Valdez. “One of them will break the records.”
Valdez finished first out of 166 runners. Her new record time eclipsed former Roadrunner Arianna Celis’ record time of 17:40 in 2010.
Director of Track and Field & Cross-Country, Marcia Mansur-Wentworth told Valdez with 200 meters to finish the race that her time was 16:35. After that, Valdez said she knew she would break the CSUB 5k record. Director Mansur-Wentworth recognized Valdez’s accomplishments on and off the path.
“It shows people that if you come here and work hard, you can find tremendous success. She’s turned herself into somebody who is well respected within the conference, as well as our campus.”
Also at the Mustang Challenge, CSUB sophomore, Paradise Pelzer finished second for CSUB and 24th overall with a time of 18:35.9. Pelzer’s previous best time was 19:42.8. Pelzer is fifth all-time for CSUB’s 5k. Redshirt freshmen, Alejandra Frausto finished third for CSUB and 54th overall, in 19:14.6, which beat her previous best by 29 seconds. Freshmen Alyssa Diaz finished in 20:03 and Sonia Holguin finished in 20:25, who rounded out the top five for the Roadrunners.
Director Mansur-Wentworth was pleased with the Mustang Challenge meet results.
“We had our best team average we ever had. We had our top three set their personal bests.” CSUB averaged a time of 19:10.
CSUB finished third out of four Division 1 teams. UCLA won first overall with an average time of 18:33.5, with UC Irvine second and CSU Northridge fourth. Director Mansur-Wentworth talked about the future of the CSUB women’s cross-country team.
“Paradise [Pelzer] is ahead of where Angel was last year. We have [junior University of Hawaii transfer, Camille] Campos who we are red-shirting this year, that will come in next year.”
Campos was a standout at Hawaii, where she reset the cross-country 6k record (20:02), was named 2015 Freshman of the Year and 2016 MVP for Hawaii.
“We’ll have a top three again [in Campos, Pelzer and Frausto] and hopefully close the gap between freshmen and one through five [top women],” said Director Mansur-Wentworth.
Next, the CSUB women’s cross-country team travel to Santa Clara, California on Saturday, Oct. 14 for the Bronco Invitational. The WAC Championships are in Englewood, Colorado on Saturday, Oct. 28.